By David Fong
TROY — More than an hour before the Troy football team began its fourth-annual Scarlet and Gray Intrasquad Scrimmage Saturday at Troy Memorial Stadium, the Trojans knew something special was happening.
“I had players coming into the locker room and asking me, ‘Coach, what are all these cars doing here?’” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “I told them, ‘They are coming to see you.’ I know a lot of them were families who were here because it was ‘Meet the Team Day,’ but I also know there were a lot of fans up there who didn’t have any family members playing today and just wanted to come and see how we looked.”
More than 1,000 fans showed up Saturday for their first look at the Trojans, who will enter this season on the heels of two Greater Western Ohio Conference American League North Division titles in a row and back-to-back playoff appearances. It was an impressive crowd to witness a well-controlled scrimmage.
“I think it says a lot about our fans and our community,” Burgbacher said. “I’m sure it was intriguing to them to have a chance to come and see us this early inside Troy Memorial Stadium. And it was a thrill for our kids, too. For our junior high kids, this is the one chance this year they’ll have to play on this field. For our freshmen, this is the one chance they’ll have to play this year on this field.
“It’s exciting because everyone knows the season is right around the corner now. We appreciate all of the support we get. Our kids are very fortunate to have the opportunity to play football in a community like Troy, where this many people would come out for an intrasquad scrimmage.”
The highlight of the day came early, when senior Scarlet running back Jaydon Culp-Bishop — who rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season and earned All-Ohio honors — broke free from several tacklers and then ourtraced the Gray defense the rest of the way for a touchdown. It was the only touchdown scored by the Scarlet or the Gray during the varsity portion of the scrimmage.
In the second half of the high school scrimmage, Troy’s sophomores did score three touchdowns against the Troy freshmen — one on a touchdown pass from Owen Davis to Grant Rehmert, one on a touchdown run by La’Manual Kemp and one on a touchdown run by Lucas Henderson.
Other than that, the scrimmage was largely dominated by the defenses as both offenses were working with limited playbooks.
“Jaydon looked good on that run,” Burgbacher said. “There was kind of a parting of the sea. One of the inside linebackers took the hole away, then it just popped open and Jaydon did a good job of seeing that, making some moves and taking it the rest of the way. That’s what Jaydon is capable of doing every time he touches the ball.
“The other big thing I was happy to see was our defense played pretty well. Aside from that one big play, our defense played pretty well, I thought. Any time you do something like this, you are always going to see some good things and some bad things. The good news is, we’ve got some time to work on the bad things.”
The intrasquad scrimmage wrapped up the Trojans’ first full week of practice. Burgbacher said it was a productive first week.
“Our first week we saw some really, really, really good things,” he said. “We still have a lot of things to work on, but the big thing I’m seeing is we are able to work less on quantity and more on quality. No matter what we are working on, whether it’s pass skeleton or inside run or whatever, we aren’t as concerned with running as many plays as we can, it’s more about being effective in the plays we do run.”
Troy will resume practice again Monday, then travel to Lima Senior for a scrimmage Aug. 11. Troy will play its final scrimmage Aug. 17 at Troy Memorial Stadium against Dunbar, then open the season Aug. 24 at home against Belmont. Both Troy and Belmont were Division II playoff qualifiers last season.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong