By David Fong
HUBER HEIGHTS — One year ago, the Wayne football team advanced all the way to the Division I state championship game.
The Warriors might be even better this year.
You’d get no argument from Troy coach Matt Burgbacher, whose undersized team gave a valiant effort, but simply couldn’t keep up with a team loaded with future Division I college football players in a 49-7 defeat Friday.
With the loss, Troy fell to 1-3, while Wayne — the No. 2 team in the first Division I state poll of the season — improved to 4-0.
“They were as good as advertised, I’ll tell you that,” Burgacher said. “We knew coming in they were good — but they may even have been a little better than what we saw on film. If they are not the best team in the state, I know they are one of them.”
Wayne scored early, scored often and scored quickly in building a don’t-blink 49-0 halftime lead. The second half — played under a running clock per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules — was largely a formality as the Trojans were left reeling from the Warriors’ opening assault.
After taking the opening kickoff, Wayne needed just three plays to go up 7-0 as Warrior quarterback Messiah DeWeaver — who will play at Michigan State next season — hooked up with Matt Wilcox on a 45-yard touchdown pass.
That merely set the tone for the entire first half, however, as Wayne scored its seven touchdowns on two drives that lasted three plays, two drives that lasted six plays, one drive that lasted one play and a interception return for a touchdown that, technically, required zero plays from scrimmage for the Warriors.
“They’ve got so many weapons,” Burgbacher said. “Who do you stop? If you try to stop the passing game, they jam you up the middle with their run game.”
All told, the Warriors scored seven touchdowns — and racked up a 49-0 lead — while running just 25 plays from scrimmage in the first half.
“We know coming in we couldn’t let them get off to a fast start,” Burgbacher said. “We knew we had to limit their big plays. We weren’t able to do that.”
DeWeaver — looking every bit the part of a future Big Ten quarterback — was impressive, completing 9 of 9 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns … in the first quarter alone. In addition to the 45-yard strike to Wilcox, he also completed a 65-yard scoring strike to L’Christian Smith and a 5-yard TD pass to Smith.
In the first half, the Warriors racked up 348 yards in total offense.
Wayne’s defense was every bit as impressive in the first half, holding the Trojans to just four first downs and allowing just 52 yards in total offense. Defensive back Donyell Denson picked off a pair of passes from Troy quarterback Hayden Kotwica, one of which he returned 9 yards for a touchdown.
Despite the insurmountable deficit in the second half, however, Troy never quit.
“At halftime, we told the kids the scoreboard was irrelevant,” Burgbacher said. “We talked about coming out and winning the second half. We talked about coming out and winning the next play. The kids kept playing. The kids never quit.”
Kotwica took the Trojans down the field on the opening drive of the second half, hooking up with junior Hayata Nagata on a 26-yard touchdown pass, giving the Trojans their first and only points of the night.
“That’s great for a kid like Hayata,” Burgbacher said. “He’s a kid who practices just as hard as everyone on the team and it was great to see him come out and be able to play on Friday night.”
Troy’s defense also would thwart a Warrior drive deep into Trojan territory when Joah Schricker pounced on a fumble at the Trojan 12 yard line. Jake Anderson would add an interception at the goalline that stopped another potential Wayne touchdown.
Despite the lopsided loss, Burgbacher said he still has confidence in his team.
“We know our best football is ahead of us,” he said. “We know some people are going to look at this score and say, ‘Troy is terrible. Troy is not any good.’ But doggone it, we know how hard these kids work. They are going to come back from this, and we know that because of the type of kids we have. I’m proud of these kids and how hard they work.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong