FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Update: Troup is now 5-0 with a 44-17 win over Starr's Mill.
It's time for a top five showdown between a pair of felines in Fayetteville on Friday night.
With four weeks already under the belt in the 2022 Georgia high school football season, a lot is becoming apparent about different teams in the early going. For Troup and Starr's Mill, the hype is real.
As both squads have begun the season 4-0, respectively, Friday night will prove which Region 4-4A team has the ability to make a strong push towards each team's first opportunity at winning a state title. Despite each team being in 4A, it is the first meeting ever between the Tigers of Troup and the Panthers of Starr's Mill.
The visiting Tigers are trying to snap a decades-long region-championship drought, one that dates all the way back to 1987. They haven't had too much trouble in any of their wins this season, outscoring opponents 148 to 68 to begin the year.
Troup is led by 4-star safety Noah Dixon on defense. The 6-foot 1-inch, 175-pound ballhawk is projected to land in the hands of the Clemson Tigers, according to Rivals, despite Dixon yet to commit. He also has offers from Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Auburn, to name a few.
But it doesn't stop there. The defensive side of the ball is nasty for the Tigers. In the middle of the defense stands 4-star linebacker Ja'Qualin "Qua" Birdsong with offers from Ole Miss, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Mississippi State. Birdsong is currently projected to commit to the Rebels, according to Rivals.
Turning to the home team, Starr's Mill has had much more recent success, although it happened in 5A. Under head coach Chad Phillips who's been at the helm of the Panthers since 2010, Starr's Mill was able to capture five consecutive region championships from 2016 through 2020. They are still in search for their first state championship, however.
They have also began the season very strong, with wins over 7A East Coweta and a close one-point win over LaGrange, 25-24 a week ago. Starr's Mill bowed out in the second round last year to Clarke Central by a final of 24-7, and are looking for their highest postseason finish since they made it all the way to the semifinals in 2019. However, it won't be an easy test at all against the Tigers defense, to say the least.
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Panther Stadium.
Be sure to check out #Team11 football show every Friday night at 11:15 for an in-depth breakdown of all of the high school football action in metro Atlanta.