It’s become an almost-annual tradition of mine to go through the Troy-Piqua rivalry, from A to Z.
Some of my critics, which are in no short supply, think I do this to try to prove I know the alphabet.
They many not be entirely wrong.
Regardless, here’s this year’s installment, with almost entirely new entries for every letter (there are some we aren’t going to be able to change unless something drastic happens).
With no further ado, here is the 2018 installment of the Troy-Piqua Rivalry, from A to Z:
A is for assistant coaches: Neither Troy coach Matt Burgbacher nor Piqua coach Bill Nees ever played in The Game, but both coaching staffs are loaded with assistant coaches who did.
B is for Bomb: That is the nickname of former Piqua player and assistant coach John “Bomb” Apple. He’s my favorite Piqua player ever. I would not-so-secretly work his name into at least one Troy-Piqua preview story every year. He passed away in 2015. He’ll always be on this list until my time here is done.
C is for Current, Jake: I’ve never seen an offensive lineman take over a game the way Current did in Troy’s 36-35 upset victory in 2007. Nees said he was “like a magnet moving down the line, picking up nails along the way.” It truly was a sight to behold. He also made his presence felt on defense and special teams that night. He would go on to play at the University of Wisconsin.
D is for Dielman, Kris: He easily had the most decorated career of any play for either team. Following his All-Ohio career as a tight end and linebacker at Troy, he went on earn All-Big Ten honors as a tight end and defensive tackle at Indians. He would then go on to become an All-Pro offensive guard for the San Diego Chargers.
E is for Elmo Boyd: According to legend, Elmo Boyd’s mother didn’t let him play football until his senior year of high school because she was afraid he would get hurt. He played as a senior on Troy’s remarkable 10-0 team in 1971, earning a scholarship to Eastern Kentucky University. He was then selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the NFL Draft.
F is for fathers: Burgbacher has his father, Charlie, who was a legendary head coach at Tippecanoe, on his staff as defensive coordinator. Nees’ son, Travis, who played for him at Piqua, currently is on his father’s staff.
G is for General McLane High School: What does this have to do with Troy or Piqua? It’s the high school alma mater of Steve Nolan, who coached for 28 years at Troy, where he coached in more Troy-Piqua games, and won more Troy-Piqua games, than any coach for either side.
H is for Hemm, Justin: He was the quarterback who helped lead Piqua to a state title in 2006. He was a three-year starter in The Game, going 2-1 as Piqua’s quarterback.
I is for Indians: The nickname for one of the principles involved in this Friday’s game. It is believed Indians is a tribute to the Pekowi, one of the five divisions of the Shawnee Native Americans, after whom the city of Piqua is named.
J is for Johnson, Aaron: Johnson was the quarterback for Troy in 1985, when the Trojans and Indians played for the 100th time. Troy was heavily favored in the game, but wasn’t able to put the contest away for good until Johnson broke free from a tackle and converted on a fourth-down run in Trojan territory. Soon after, Trojan running back Mike Delwiche broke free for the touchdown that iced the game.
K is for Karn, Micah: He is the quarterback for this year’s team and the latest in the seemingly endless line of Karn family members to play in this game.
L is for Lima Central Catholic: LCC is Nees’ alma mater. No Piqua coach has led the Indians in more Troy-Piqua games, or won more Troy-Piqua games, than Nees.
M is for Manson, Jason: The recent Troy Athletic Hall of Fame inductee currently is the outside linebackers coach at Troy. He always had monster games against Piqua. As a senior in 1996, his blocked punt — which Troy would go on to convert into a touchdown — was an early turning point in the game.
N is for Neuenschwander, Ethan: He was an offensive lineman on Piqua’s 1992 state semifinal team. Also, I kind of wanted to see what Spellcheck would suggest for “Neuenschwander.” (Spoiler alert: Spellcheck offered no suggestions).
O is for overtime: It’s only happened once in the history of the rivalry. That was in 1995, when the Trojans won 17-14 on Nick Trostle’s field goal.
P is for playoffs: That’s also happened just once. That was in 1992, when Piqua avenged a regular-season loss to Troy by beating the Trojans 20-7 in the playoffs.
Q is for Quinn Pitcock: He’s a former Piqua defensive lineman who went on to become an All-American at Ohio State. It’s hard to find something in this rivalry that starts with a “Q.” He’ll likely be on this list for a very long time.
R is for Roosevelt, Theodore: Troy and Piqua did not play in 1905. Why? President Theodore Roosevelt banned the sport because it was getting too violent. That year alone, 18 people across the nation died while playing football, which at the time, was much different than it is today.
S is for Siler, Brayden: He’s the quarterback at Troy. His mother was a standout volleyball player at … Piqua.
T is for Tippecanoe High School: That’s Troy coach Matt Burgbacher’s alma mater.
U is for undefeated: The last Troy or Piqua team to finish the regular season undefeated was Piqua, which went 10-0 in 1999. The last Troy team to finish the regular season undefeated was in 1997.
V is for Valentine, Harold: Harold “Corky” Valentine is best known as a former Cincinnati Reds pitcher, but he also once played quarterback at Troy.
W is for wins: Troy has eight of them this year (with one loss), while Piqua has six (with three losses).
X is for Xenia: Troy played Xenia this year. Hey, it’s “X” … what do you want?
Y is for years: Troy and Piqua have been playing for 119 of them, dating back to the first meeting in 1899.
Z is for Zimpher, Bob: In 1964, Zimpher got the start for Troy at quarterback for an injured Mark Goldner, who would go on to become more well-known as Troy’s longtime tennis coach.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong