Prep Football: Newnan looks to bounce back against Troup
By DOUG GORMAN
Sometimes the best way for a high school football team to forget about a tough loss is to get right back on the practice field and put it behind them.
That has been the Newnan Cougars’ approach this week after they lost to top-ranked Sandy Creek 38-7 last Friday.
Newnan took a brief 7-3 lead against the Patriots when Darrell Morrow recovered a fumble for a touchdown midway through the first quarter, but most of the night belonged to Sandy Creek as it used speed and size to wear down the Cougars.
“We just couldn’t execute,” McDonald said. “We got beat on a couple of big plays and you really can’t do that against a team as talented as Sandy Creek. “We came out and challenged our guys to play better in the second half and I think we did that.”
Now, the 2-1 Cougars look to get back on the winning track when they travel to LaGrange for a non-region contest against Troup at Callaway Stadium.
This wil be the 19th meeting between the two teams, but the first contest since Newnan’s 21-14 win in 1997. The Cougars hold a 12-4-2 lead.
Before dropping their contest to Sandy Creek last week, the Cougars opened the year with come-from-behind victories over Marietta (38-29) and LaGrange (24-21).
The Cougars have scored 69 points in the first three contests, using a variety of offensive packages, including putting Tray Matthews in the wildcat formation in order to keep the ball in his hands.
Mathews has also turned into the team’s leading wide receiver with 13 catches for 285 yards and three touchdowns. The senior, who has committed to the University of Georgia, is also one of the leaders on the defensive side of the ball from his cornerback spot.
Quinton Dix comes into the game as the Cougars’ leading rusher with 193 yards on 34 attempts.
Running back J.K. Britt has shown his ability to both run and catch the ball out of the Cougars’ backfield. In addition to carrying the football 23 times for 56 yards, Britt has also caught seven passes. Britt helped the Cougars to their wins against Marietta and LaGrange with three catches in each of those contests.
Newnan sophomore quarterback Bailey Bryant has completed 36 of 52 passed for 341 yards and five touchdowns despite tossing his first career interception on a tipped ball last week.
The Cougar offense, however, was completely held in check by Sandy Creek. Bailey finished with 52 yards passing, 47 of which came on a throw to leading receiver Tray Matthews. Matthews had back-to-back catches in the first quarter and was silent from there on offense, including two Wildcat runs that went for minus-4 yards.
Newnan continues to struggle with its ground game, averaging 3.3 yards on 91 carries so far. Senior Quinton Dix is averaging 64.3 yards a game, but the Cougars have yet to post a 100-yard effort out of the backfield.
Linebacker Tonaris Portress led Newnan with 10 tackles and a forced fumble last week. But Sandy Creek’s massive offensive line held the Cougars, who only had one tackle for loss, without a sack.
Troup is trying to get back to the playoffs for the third year in a row after posting a 9-3 record in 2011 and a 7-4 mark in 2010.
The Tigers, however, are going through a period of transition heading into the season with first year under coach Lynn Kendall now the head coach after spending several year at rival Callaway as an assistant.
Troup lost 15-12 to Redan and 28-7 against Callaway last week.
Despite the slow start, McDonald has watched enough film on the Tigers to know their record doesn’t tell the whole story.
“Their record is kind of misleading,” McDonald said. “They have some really good players coming back.”
Troup could have easily won its season opener against Redan, but couldn’t convert late in the game after moving the football down to the Redan 10.
Newnan will have to be on guard for some possible trickery when they face the Tigers Friday night.
Against Redan, Troup set itself up for a possible win when Daryl Dunlap’s halfback pass to Malcom Tatum set the Tigers up at the Redan 10-yard-line.
Running backs Lemonta Truitt and Ricky Frazier have moved the football this year for Troup with a powerful running game.
Truitt scored the only touchdown of the game for Troup to help the Tigers avoid the shutout against Callaway on a 2-yard run last week.
Kendall knows his team is going to have to work on being more consistent if it hopes to beat Newnan.
“In a lot of ways we improved vastly over last week,” he told the LaGrange News after the loss. “But at the same time, there are things that are causing us to be inconsistant.”
Troup will have to move the ball against a defense that at times as looked stingy. Newnan's Tonaris Portress leads the way with 30 tackles. Tray Matthews as added 19. Portress and Rodney Tennie each have an interception for the Cougars.