By David Fong
TROY — The Troy football team’s winter of discontent has come to an end.
“You know, it’s been almost nine months since we’ve been able to walk out on this field — and it felt like a part of us was missing,” Troy football coach Matt Burgbacher said after his team wrapped up one of its summer camp days Tuesday on the practice field next to Troy High School. “It feels awesome to be back out here.”
The Ohio High School Athletic Association allows football teams 10 camp days in June and July before practices may officially begin July 30. Tuesday was Troy’s first camp day. The Trojans will be off Wednesday, then return to camp again Thursday and Friday. Troy will take the remainder of its camp days beginning July 9.
The Trojans are coming off back-to-back Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division titles and back-to-back playoff appearances. Troy has gone 18-5 the past two seasons. While all of that is nice, Burgbacher said it’s important his team remain focused on what is ahead of it and not what it already has accomplished.
“This is a different year and a different team,” Burgbacher said. “Nobody is going to give us anything. We are going to have to work for everything we want.”
Burgbacher said he liked what he saw on the first day of camp.
“We passed any expectations we may have had for the first day,” he said. “Did we make mistakes? Yes. Did we fail at some things? Yes. But the only way you get better is by embracing failure. The nice thing we saw is that the kids weren’t afraid to take on failure. No one was sitting in the back of the line, afraid to fail.
“Our intensity was great. Our speed was great. The only concern we had was our conditioning. But it’s only June 12. We’ve got plenty of time to work on that. Our conditioning will get better as the summer goes along. For now, it was great to see our kids out here working hard.”
Troy will have to sort out a number of position battles as the summer progresses. On offense, Troy loses its quarterback, it’s leading receiver and three interior linemen to graduation. On defense, the Trojans lose three defensive linemen — including one All-Ohio selection — an All-Ohio outside linebacker and two starting defensive backs to graduation.
Burgbacher is hoping the depth Troy has built up since his arrival in 2015 will make those losses a little easier to swallow.
“We’ve got great competition at every position,” he said. “Even the kids we have who are returning starters know they are going to have to come out and work hard every day if they want to keep those positions. That’s the once nice thing about where we are now, as a program, is the depth we have. That wasn’t necessarily the case when I first got here. Now our kids know we are going to be watching them every day in camp and they had better be ready to perform every single day.”
Burgbacher will look for leadership from the largest senior class he’s had since coming to Troy from Fort Loramie.
“Our senior leadership has been great,” he said. “The younger guys are stepping up, too. It’s great to be back out here. We’ve been waiting a long time for this. Our practice went for three hours, but it barely felt like we were out here an hour. That’s how good it felt to be back.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong