By David Fong
TROY — There’s nothing small about the Troy football team’s matchup with Miamisburg Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Big crowd. Big stakes. Big expectations.
And, perhaps most important of all as far as Troy coach Matt Burgbacher is concerned, two very big offensive linemen.
“Josh Myers is the best offensive lineman I’ve ever coached against,” Burgbacher said. “He’s absolutely the real deal. There’s a reason why he’s the top-rated offensive lineman in the nation.”
When Troy (4-0) takes on Miamisburg (3-1) Friday, the Trojans will have to figure out a way to slow down the Vikings’ turf-churning wing-t offense, which is led by Myers and fellow senior offensive lineman Cody Lamb. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Myers has been committed to play at The Ohio State University since his sophomore year in high school and is considered by many recruiting services to be the best high school lineman in the nation. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Lamb is committed to the University of Cincinnati.
With those two leading the way, Miamisburg is averaging 269.0 rushing yards and 39.0 points per game. The Vikings are near the top of the Greater Western Ohio Conference in both categories. The Vikings’ leading rusher is Tony Clark, who has 55 carries for 417 yards (a 7.6 yards-per-carry average) and eight touchdowns this season. Jake Ross has 12 carries for 270 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Sophomore quarterback Tate Vongsy has completed 18 of 29 passes for 400 yards and four touchdowns this season.
“They are a fundamentally sound and well-coached team,” Burgbacher said. “They are a smash-mouth team that works downhill on every play. They are going to try to get you out of position with their alignments and their formation shifts. They’ll also throw the ball enough to keep you honest. They don’t want to throw the ball, but if you start creeping up too much to stop the run, they can throw it.”
One advantage Troy does have is that defensive coordinator Charlie Burgbacher is a wing-t disciple who ran that ground-based offense for more than 30 years as a head coach.
“That’s what he’s run his whole career,” Burgbacher said of his father. “He’s very familiar with all the little things that go into running the wing-t. He’ll have a plan. But they still have that massive offensive line we are going to have to deal with. It’s hard to plan your way around that. But we’ll try to do some things to keep those guys off of our guys.”
Defensively, Miamisburg runs a 4-4 defense. The Vikings are giving up just 221.8 total yards and 11.3 yards per game. Prior to giving up 45 points in a loss to state power Wayne last Friday, Miamisburg had given up just 13 points in three games.
“Their strength is up front,” Burgbacher said. “Their front eight is big and athletic.”
Friday’s game carries a heap of potential playoff points. The Trojans currently are the No. 1 team in the Division II, Region 6 standings, while Miamisburg is No. 8. The winner should get a major boost in points following the game. The top eight teams in each region qualify for the postseason.
Burgbacher said he expects a big crowd on hand for the game, given Miamisburg’s recent run of success and his own team’s apparent resurgence. The Trojans are 4-0 for the first time since 2000 and just the 29th time in the program’s 120-year history.
“The biggest thing about this team is their experience. They start seven or eight seniors on offense, and all the juniors they play are kids who played last year as sophomores. On defense, they start nine seniors, and the two juniors they do start both started last year as a sophomores.”
While playing in a game of this magnitude is relatively new for the Trojans, Burgbacher said he knows Miamisburg is experienced in such matters.
“This is a team that has been there and done that,” he said. “They’ve made the playoffs. They’ve played for conference titles. They’ve played in big games. This is something new for a lot of our kids. I don’t want to say they haven’t played in any big games, because they have, but in most of those games they were playing for pride. There’s a big difference between playing for pride and what we are playing for in this game.”
Still, though, Burgbacher said his team is looking forward to the experience.
“This is the type of game you dream of playing in,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge for our kids, but it’s also going to be a huge opportunity. I know our kids are excited and I’m excited for them. I know it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong