By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — If you live in Troy or Piqua — or anywhere in Miami County, for that matter — chances are you are going to spend a lot of time this week hearing about a certain high school football game being played in Piqua’s Alexander Stadium.
With good reason.
This is the biggest meeting between the two historic rivals in quite some time. For the first since 1989 — when Troy beat Piqua 17-14 — the final game of the season between the two schools will crown a division champion. Only recently has the game been moved back to the final game of the regular season.
Prior to the game being moved to Week 10 in 2012, the two teams had last played in the final game in 1988 and 1989. Before that, you have to go back to 1959.
So this is a pretty rare occurrence. The past four Week 10 meetings, the game was largely played for pride, as both teams already had been eliminated from the hunt for the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division title. This year, however, Troy enters the game 8-1 (4-0 in the American North), while Piqua comes in at 7-2 (4-0).
The winner brings home the title. The loser has to settle for second place.
Since it’s been so long since there’s been so much at stake between the two teams, perhaps it’s time for a refresher course on the historical significance in this game. Let’s take a look at some of the history behind this rivalry:
The First Game
Troy and Piqua first played in 1899. The two teams played twice that season, with Troy winning both games, 17-0 and 7-5.
Contrary to popular belief, Troy vs. Piqua is not Ohio’s oldest rivalry. That honor goes to Canton McKinely and Massillon Washington, a rivalry that dates back to 1894. Sandusky vs. Fremont Ross (first played in 1895) and Dover vs. New Philadelphia (1896) also are older than Troy vs. Piqua.
What Troy vs. Piqua is, however, is the most-played rivalry in Ohio. No two Ohio high school football teams have played more times than the Trojans and Indians. From that first meeting in 1899 until 1921, the two teams would frequently face off twice per season, allowing it to jump ahead of the older rivalries in terms of the number of games played.
So how many times have Troy and Piqua played? The two teams have played 131 times. Piqua holds a 63-62-6 edge in the series. Of all the rivalries in Ohio that pre-date the 20th century, that is one of the closest. Only Ironton vs. Portsmouth — which also began in 1899 — is closer. That rivalry currently is tied up at 58-58-9.
There are some historians who would argue Troy and Piqua have played only 130 times, with Piqua holding a 63-61-6 edge. There is evidence to support one of the games played in the early 1900s was not a game between students from the two high schools, but actually a “city game,” featuring players — many of them grown men — who didn’t necessarily attend either school. Troy won that game, which some feel should be stricken from the record.
Both schools, however, recognize the series having been played 131 times.
Troy already has qualified for the Division II playoffs, clinching a home game in the first round. Piqua has not qualified for the playoffs yet, but a win over Troy would assure the Indians a spot in the Division III postseason. A loss would not necessarily eliminate Piqua from playoff contention, either, but its would need some help getting in at 7-3.
In the long history between the two teams, they’ve met just once in the postseason. That came in 1992. Troy defeated Piqua 22-7 in Week 5 of the regular season, but Piqua got its revenge in the playoffs, beating Troy 20-7 in the Division I regional championship game.
Since 1999, the Trojans and Indians have been in different playoff divisions, which are based on school enrollment. Unless Troy moves down to Division III or Piqua moves up to Division II, a playoff meeting between the two is now impossible.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong