By David Fong
TROY — Matt Burgbacher isn’t worried about Friday.
That seems a little odd, given that Burgbacher is the Troy High School football coach and his team — except on rare exceptions — plays its games on Fridays.
Right now, though, Burgbacher is more concerned with how his team comports itself from Saturday through Thursday — and if it can get that taken care of, Friday will take care of itself.
“It’s not Friday we are focused on,” Burgbacher said. “From Saturday through Thursday, we’ve got to be a better team. Right now, we aren’t doing a good enough job preparing for Friday. Every single day, from Saturday through Thursday, each individual needs to look at themselves and ask, ‘Did I win today? Did I do what I was supposed to do today?’
“Everyone has the will to win. Nobody wants to lose. But what separates a great team from a good team is being willing to prepare to win. I’m not questioning our heart. I know our guys want to win on Friday nights. But do we have the will to prepare to win from Saturday through Thursday? I think we need more guys on that same page.”
Burgbacher is hoping that will be the case this week as Troy (1-2) prepares to host Fairborn (1-2) Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium. Last year against the Skyhawks, the Trojans jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 42-14 win as much of the second half was played with a running clock.
Burgbacher said it won’t be quite so easy this time.
“The first thing that jumps out at me as I watch the film is how much improvement Fairborn has made since last year,” he said. “They are a better team on offense, defense and special teams. I know they graduated a good senior class last year, but this year they definitely have a better team.”
On offense, the Skyhawks return both quarterback Wesley Watts and tailback K.J. Redmon to their spread offense. Last year, Watts was injured early against the Trojans and never returned. So far this season, he’s completed 28 of 63 passes for 439 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Redmon has 60 carries for 297 yards and five touchdcowns. Fairborn’s leading receiver is Dawson Blakely, who has 11 catches for 132 yards.
“They’ve got a nice quarterback who is getting some interest (from college programs),” Burgbacher said. “Their offensive line is big and can move some guys. They’ve got their running back returning from last year. They’ve got good receivers. They are going to spread you out and try to run the ball. We’ve got to try to get them to do things they don’t want to do on offense.”
Defensively, Burgbacher said, it’s tough to get a read on Fairborn — especially since the Skyhawks haven’t faced any spread offenses, which Troy runs, yet this year.
“We’ve seen them in three different defenses already,” he said. “And of the three games we have film on them, none of them were against the spread. Two of them were against Beavercreek and Xenia, which run the option. So we are looking at a lot of film from last year when we played them. If you remember, our offense got off to a rocky start against them, but then our defense put us in some good situations. They’ve got a good defense this year.”
Burgbacher said one of the keys for the Trojans Friday will be getting off to a quick start and maintaining consistency through the entire game. In last week’s 30-22 loss to Bellefontaine, Troy fell behind 16-0 to start the game and — even when it climbed back into the game in the second half — made costly errors in all phases of the game.
“I know it’s an old cliche, but we had a lot of teachable moments from that game,” Burgbacher said. “We did some really good things, but in the end, we also did some costly things. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams. Those are all things we can fix — but we’ve got to be willing to fix those things in practice. If we can take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong