By David Fong
RIVERSIDE — According to legend, when the Stebbins football team took on Troy in 1971, it flooded its home field the week leading up to the game in an effort to slow down a high-powered Trojan offense led by legendary running back Gordon Bell.
As the apocryphal tale goes — officials from Stebbins would later claim the sprinklers were left on “by accident” — it worked for about a half until the Trojans found their footing and pulled away for the blowout win.
That same ploy never would have worked in 2018 for at least two reasons:
1) Stebbins now plays on turf.
2) It probably wouldn’t have slowed down Troy Friday night anyway.
A high-powered Trojan passing attack — coupled with a lockdown defense — was far more than Stebbins could possibly have prepared for the Trojans jumped out to a 48-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 62-0 victory. With the win, Troy improved to 4-0, while Stebbins fell to 0-4.
“Our kids prepared the same this week as they have all season,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “ This week as no different than any other week. We had a gameplan for Stebbins, but we were more focused on improving ourselves. We got better as a team this week.”
Troy came out throwing the ball early and often, with Trojan quarterback Brayden Siler completing 13-of-16 passes — two of those incompletions were drops —for 252 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone. He found eight different receivers in the first two quarters, including touchdown passes to Weston Smith (33 yards), Shane Shoop (8 yards) and Caillou Monroe (55 yards).
“I was excited to get the opportunity, no matter who we were playing” Siler said. “We wanted to come out and do our best. We couldn’t have a letdown. I believe our receivers are the best around. In my opinion, our depth is crazy. If you go down the depth chart, we’ve got guys who can catch the ball. Our offensive line also came out and played well. They are getting better each week and didn’t have any letdowns tonight.”
Siler nearly had a fourth touchdown pass in the first half as Monroe had the ball jarred loose at the goal line, but Spencer Klopfenstein was scooped it up in the end zone for a Trojan score.
Overall, Burgbacher was pleased with his team’s passing game against the Indians.
“I thought Brayden came out and did a great job,” he said. “Our receivers did a great job. But I’ll tell you what; it all starts up front with the blocking of our offensive line. They did an outstanding job tonight.”
With Troy feasting on the Stebbins defense through the air, Troy didn’t need to use star running back Jaydon Culp-Bishop much in the first half, but he still was effective on the limited touches he got, carrying the ball six times for 62 yards and three touchdowns (1, 21 and 7 yards) in the first half alone.
Still, though, he finished the game with seven carries for 167 yards and four touchdowns. On the very first play of the second half, Culp-Bishop got the ball and burst up the middle for a 65-yard touchdown, his fourth of the night. That was the last time Troy’s starters on offense would see the field. The entire second half was played under a running clock.
Troy would add a final touchdown on the next series when back-up quarterback Tucker Raskay flipped a short pass to slot receiver Shane Shoop, who outraced the Stebbins defense 60 yards for a score.
“It was important we stay focused — that was all ‘Coach B” talked about all week,” Siler said. “No matter who we are playing, we’ve got to come out and excel. We can’t play down to anyone’s level. We’e know who we are as a football team and we’ve got to play like it.”
Troy’s defense, meanwile, completely shut down the Stebbins offense, allowing only three first downs in the first half, one of which was a result of a Trojan penalty. In the first half alone, Troy defense caught Stebbins in the backfield 11 times for losses. Leading the charge was sophomore defensive tackle Adam DeCerbo, who practically spent as much time in Stebbins’ backfield as the Indians’ quarterback.
“I thought we played great,” DeCerbo said. “We were playing a good team and we did our job and shut them out. From the first play, I felt sometimes like we knew the snap count better than they did. They had a flow and we picked up on it.”
Much like it did on offense, Troy sat its starters most of the second half. Not that it mattered, however, as Troy’s back-ups secure the shutout.
“I thought our defense played great,” Burgbacher said. “When it was late in the game, our guys on the bench were cheering on the guys who were in there because they wanted to keep that shutout. That was great to see. I thought our guys did a great job of staying focused and taking care of business.”
Which proved too much for Stebbins in 1971 or 2018.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong