Troy preparing for Bellefontaine


By David Fong

dfong@aimmediamidwest.com

TROY — In a season filled with magical moments, one may have shone brightest of them all.

Last year, the Troy football team trailed Bellefontaine 28-7 at halftime of its Week 3 contest. The game appeared to be over and the Trojans seemed headed for their first loss of the season.

That’s when the magic kicked in, however, as Troy’s defense finally found a way to slow down stellar Chieftain quarterback Dezmin Lyburtus, Troy quarterback Hayden Kotwica and running back Josh Browder caught fire on offense and the Trojans pulled off an improbable 41-36 comeback victory, capped off by Kotwica’s 53-yard touchdown pass to Browder with exactly 1 minute to play.

The win would help launch the Trojans into the stratosphere, as they would win seven of their next eight games, capture a conference title and make the playoffs.

With Bellefontaine coming to Troy Memorial Stadium Friday for a rematch, Troy coach Matt Burgbacher would just as soon not see his team need such dramatics to win again this year.

“No, that is definitely not in our game plan this year,” Burgbacher said with a chuckle. “We’d prefer not to have to do that again. Whenever you are playing, no matter who you are playing, you always want to get off to a fast start and get the other team on their heels as fast as you can.

“Last year we did not get off to a good start. We got down 21-0 early and really put ourselves behind the 8-ball. But one thing I think our kids learned from that is that there is no 12-point play in football. It was a reminder that every play matters. When we came out of the locker room after halftime, we knew we just had to take things one play at a time.”

Two of the principle players who keyed that comeback for the Trojans last year — Kotwica and Browder — have since graduated. Bellefontaine, however, returns its star from last year in Lyburtus.

In last year’s game, Lyburtus simply torched the Trojans — particularly in the first half — finishing with 40 carries for 235 yards and two touchdowns, while also completing 13 of 24 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown.

He’s back and, Burgbacher said, looking even better than he did last year. Through two games this season, he’s completed 24 of 45 passes for 409 yards and four touchdowns, while carrying the ball 40 times for 282 yards and two touchdowns — putting him on pace to post even better numbers than he did a year ago.

“He’s gotten better throwing the ball since last year,” Burgbacher said. “He’s a lot better throwing the ball. His mobility is about the same — which was pretty impressive last year. One thing you can tell is physically, he’s bigger and stronger than last year.

“He can do so many things, and he’s going to have the ball in his hands every play. They’ll run designed runs with him, but they’ll also run the zone-read where they can run it with him or they will hand it off — you are put in a situation where you are danged if you do and danged if you don’t. And then on the designed passes, he has the ability to tuck the ball and run if there’s nothing there.”

He also has a number of weapons at his disposal when he does distribute the ball. Running back Trey Stahler has 31 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns; he also has three receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Johnny Ganson has seven receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s not a one-man offense,” Burgbacher said. “He’s got a lot of talented guys around him who make him even more dangerous.”

Defensively, Burgbacher said the Chieftains have made some changes since last year.

“They are doing more of a four-man front this year,” he said. “But I’m also sure they’ll do a good job of mixing some things up against us.”

At Friday’s game, the Troy Hall of Fame Class of 2017 also will be introduced. This year’s class includes track and field coach Herb Hartman, football coach Steve Nolan, basketball player Richard Steineman, track athlete/gymnast Rob Evans and basketball/volleyball player Stacy Pahl Schretzman.

Contact David Fong at dfong@aimmediamidwest.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong

.neFileBlock {
margin-bottom: 20px;
}
.neFileBlock p {
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
}
.neFileBlock .neFile {
border-bottom: 1px dotted #aaa;
padding-bottom: 5px;
padding-top: 10px;
}
.neFileBlock .neCaption {
font-size: 85%;
}

Anthony Weber | Troy Daily News Troy’s Zach Schwaush (48) tries to beat a Trotwood blocker in Week 1.
http://www.tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2017/09/web1_170825aw_Troy_48.jpgAnthony Weber | Troy Daily News Troy’s Zach Schwaush (48) tries to beat a Trotwood blocker in Week 1.

Photo C0urtesy of Lee Woolery | Speedshot Photo Troy’s Sam Coleman runs the ball against Xenia in Week 2.
http://www.tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2017/09/web1_090117lw_troy_samcoleman.jpgPhoto C0urtesy of Lee Woolery | Speedshot Photo Troy’s Sam Coleman runs the ball against Xenia in Week 2.

Anthony Weber | Troy Daily News Troy’s Blake Burton (20) and Joah Schricker (36) and Garrett Jones (32) stop a Trotwood ballcarrier in Week 1.
http://www.tdn-net.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2017/09/web1_170825aw_Troy_20_36_32.jpgAnthony Weber | Troy Daily News Troy’s Blake Burton (20) and Joah Schricker (36) and Garrett Jones (32) stop a Trotwood ballcarrier in Week 1.
Cheiftains return star quarterback