By David Fong
TROY — With the stakes high and the atmosphere electric, Troy football coach Matt Burgbacher said last week’s 21-14 win against Xenia felt like a playoff game.
Burgbacher is expecting the same thing this week as Troy (2-0) hosts Cincinnati Turpin (2-0) Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium in a battle of unbeaten teams with playoff hopes. Turpin, like Troy, competes in Division II, Region 8, which means both will be also competing for the eight playoffs spots available within the region throughout the season.
“Ultimately, we have two goals every season: Number one is to win the league and number two is to make the playoffs,” Burgbacher said. “Last week was a playoff-type game; it had a playoff atmosphere. We feel like this week will be the same thing. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-win game this early in the season, but this is one of those games that, if you can win, some really good things can happen.
“We’re in the same boat as Turpin. They are 2-0; we are 2-0. They are a good football team; we think Troy is a good football team. They have some goals they want to accomplish this season; we have some goals we’d like to accomplish this season. This is a big game for both teams. Plus it’s (Troy Athletic) Hall of Fame night and we are expecting a good crowd.”
Turpin is coached by former Troy assistant Kent McCullough, who coached under former Troy coach Steve Nolan in the 2000s. The Spartans opened the season with a 34-14 win over New Philadelphia, then followed that with last week’s 28-9 win against Cincinnati Northwest. This will be the first time Troy and Turpin have every played.
“They are not the biggest team we’ve faced or will face this season, but they are probably the most athletic across the board, when you look at the 33 starters on offense, defense and special teams. The other thing that jumps out on you when you watch their film is they are very disciplined and very well-coached in what they do.”
Offensively, the Spartans are nearly a mirror image of the Trojans in terms of sets and play calling.
“They are almost a carbon copy of us, offensively,” Burgbacher said. “They run some zone, but they also run quite a bit of power. The run the RPOs (run/pass option) like we do and they run a lot of the outside zone like we do. Their tight end is almost a carbon copy of our tight end (Spencer Klopfenstein). The utilize their tight end almost exactly like we utilize our tight end, whether its in blocking or going out for a pass.”
Turpin’s quarterback, junior Justin Silverstein, is incredibly accurate, having completed 34-of-49 passes (69.4 percent) this season for 366 yards, with five touchdowns and two interceptions. His favorite receiver is senior Cody Kidd, who has 17 receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns this year. Junior tight end Josh Bell has seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
The team’s leading rusher is junior Reece Evans, who has 49 carries for 304 yards and four touchdowns. The second-leading rusher is sophomore Kaiden Naughton, who has 24 carries for 149 yards.
“They’ve got a couple of running backs they can use, their quarterback has a nice arm and he is a threat to run the ball,” Burgbacher said. “He does scramble when he needs to and can make plays, so that’s something we need to be aware of.”
Defensively, the Spartans run a 4-3 defense.
“They run a 4-3 and we suspect they’ll be in man coverage,” Burgbacher said. “But they will also vary their coverage and will blitz a lot. They’ll send guys after us.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong