By David Fong
TROY — The wait is nearly over for the Troy football team.
First, however, there was the matter of taking on Dunbar in the final scrimmage of the preseason Friday night at Troy Memorial Stadium. That turned out to be largely a formality, however, as Dunbar arrived Friday with roughly 25 players — varsity and junior varsity combined — as Troy, with about 80 players on its roster, had little trouble posting a 42-0 victory in just three quarters of action.
“I told our kids, ‘We can only control what we can control,’” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said after the scrimmage. “And those things are attitude, giving great effort and playing hard. Our kids have been giving great effort in practice the past couple of weeks and they came out and gave a great effort tonight in our dress rehearsal.”
Troy jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter, thanks in large part to an opportunistic defense. On Dunbar’s first drive, senior outside linebacker Sam Jackson stripped the ball from a Dunbar running back and recovered the fumble, giving the Trojan offense the ball the Dunbar 33.
Five plays later, junior quarterback Brayden Siler hooked up with senior tight end Spencer Klopfenstein on a 16-yard touchdown pass. Siler booted the extra point to put the Trojans up 7-0.
On Troy’s second score, the Trojans didn’t even need to get the offense involved as senior defensive back Jacob Shoop stepped in front of a Wolverine receiver, picked off a pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to put Troy up 14-0. On Dunbar’s third drive, Shoop nearly scored a second time as he intercepted another pass and returned it 57 yards before pushed out at the 3-yard line. Three plays later, Siler muscled his way into the end zone from a yard out to put Troy up 21-0.
“Jacob Shoop played well back there,” Burgbacher said. “I thought our defense as a whole played great. In our front seven, we were rotating in a lot of guys and they all played well. If you include our outside linebackers, we are playing with five new starters on the defensive line. I thought all of those guys did really well.”
Troy’s defense forced a punt on Dunbar’s third drive. Troy took over at its own 42 and immediately started churning out yardage on runs by Siler and senior running back Jaydon Culp-Bishop. After a 16-yard pass from Siler to Klopfenstein, Siler flipped the ball to Culp-Bishop on a little pop pass and Culp-Bishop took it in 13 yards for the score to put the Trojans up 28-0 late in the first quarter.
Troy’s offense bogged down a little and didn’t score in the second quarter, but its defense also kept the Wolverines off the board, allowing the Trojans to take a 28-0 lead into halftime.
“One of the big things we’ll emphasize this week is not getting complacent,” Burgbacher said. “When you get up like we did, you’ve got to put the hammer down. That’s something we can work on.”
Troy’s offense would add two more touchdowns in the third quarter. Following a 32-yard screen pass from Siler to Shane Shoop, the Trojan quarterback hooked up with sophomore receiver Lucas Henderson on a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Trojans up 35-0. Troy would tack on a final touchdown when Ramon Quintero scored on a 7-yard run.
“I thought our offense did some good things,” Burgbacher said. “What I really liked was the way our offensive line played. We had five new starters in there tonight and, like we did on defense, we were rotating in a lot of different guys. We got everyone a chance to play tonight and I think our kids responded when they were given an opportunity.”
Troy opens the regular season against Belmont Aug. 24 at Troy Memorial Stadium.
“Our kids practice with great effort,” Burgbacher said. “It’s good to get the opportunity to come out and play against another team instead of just going scarlet against gray every day in practice. Our kids are chomping at the bit to get the season started. We’ve got great expectations for this team, which our kids understand it not pressure, but opportunity. We’ve got a week to clean some things up and get the season started.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong