By David Fong
TROY — Something about the Troy football team’s offense sticks out immediately to Joel Derge.
Of course, it’s something that is hard to miss … literally.
“They are big and physical up front,” the Tippecanoe football coach said. “They’ve got a big offensive line. They are a big, physical offense.”
Troy’s offensive line will be expected to play a key role Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium as Troy (4-1) takes on Tippecanoe (4-1) in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division opener for both teams. It will also be the first time the two county schools have played one another in football since 1985.
Troy’s offensive line is anchored by senior tackles Travis Hall (6-foot-4, 308 pounds) and Dylan Sedam (6-5, 274). At the guards are juniors Kameron Block (5-10, 264) and Drew Smith (6-1, 261). Junior Rase Darrow (5-8, 236) is the center.
Those five have cleared the way for a Trojan offense that is averaging 395.8 yards in total offense per game, third out of 20 teams in the entire GWOC.
The offense is led by senior quarterback Hayden Kotwica, a third-year starter who has completed 46 of 82 passes for 700 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions this season. He’s also seen an increased role running the ball this season, having carried the ball 83 times for 357 yards and six touchdowns.
It’s been a breakout season for senior Trojan running back Josh Browder, who has carried the ball 71 times for 615 yards, third in the GWOC, and seven touchdowns. He’s rushed for 139, 184 and 170 yards in each of the Trojans last three games. He’s also Troy’s leading receiver with 10 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown.
Hayden Jackson is Troy’s No. 2 receiver with nine catches for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Sam Coleman has eight catches for 134 yards and a touchdown, while Spencer Klopfenstein has seven catches for 112 yards.
“Their offense is good,” Derge said. “They run out of the shotgun and they run the ball effectively. Their quarterback is very good. He’s a three-year starter who can sling the ball around and he really uses his weapons effectively.”
Tippecanoe will counter with a defense that is giving up 280.4 yards per game, ninth in the GWOC. The Red Devils also are giving up 21.1 points per game. The Trojans should be familiar with many aspects of the defense, as it was put in place by current Trojan defensive coordinator Charlie Burgbacher during his 26 years as the Devils’ head coach, and has been tweaked by Derge since he took over last season.
“Their defense is a combination of a Charlie Burgbacher and a Vandalia defense —‚ I see elements of both there,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “It’s a 5-2 or a 3-4 — whatever you want to call it — but they also like to mix things up. They will vary their coverages. The three kids that really stand out to me are their inside linebackers, (Matt) Garber and (Austin) Subler, along with their safety, (Cade) Rogers.
“Those three guys really stood out on film. The Rogers kid can really make plays out there. They’ve got a good, solid defense. Their kids fly to the ball and make plays. They are an aggressive defense.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong