By David Fong
TROY — Saying you know what the Miamisburg football team is going to do is kind of like saying you know what a runaway train is going to do — it’s great to have that knowledge, but you’ve still got to figure out a way to stop the carnage.
That’s the challenge facing Troy (4-0) this week as it plays host to Miamisburg (4-0) in a battle of unbeaten teams. It’s the first time this century an undefeated Troy team has taken on an undefeated opponent this late in the season. The teams are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. at Troy Memorial Stadium.
Troy coach Matt Burgbacher knows the key to winning the game will be figuring out a way to slow down Miamisburg’s wing-t rushing attack, which is engineered by highly successful coach Steve Channell. Last year, Troy held Miamisburg — which averaged 229.6 rushing yards per game last season — to just 68 rushing yards in a 31-21 win.
This season, the Vikings are averaging 225.5 yards per game on the ground.
“They are going to run the ball,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “That’s exactly what they have done and are going to do. Their personnel might change, but Steve Channell still wants to run the football. He will sneak in a pass here or there to keep the defense honest, but they are still going to look to run the ball first.”
One of the key elements in the Viking offense is senior quarterback Tate Vongsy, who has seen an increased role this season in both the passing and running game. So far this season, he’s completed 31 of 49 passes (63.3 percent) for 476 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also the team’s third-leading rusher, having carried the ball 32 times for 187 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, he didn’t have 32 carries until the eighth week of the season.
This will be Vongsy’s fourth time facing the Trojans. A starter as a sophomore, he played against Troy twice in 2016, leading his team to a win in both the regular season and Division II regional semifinals.
“This will be our fourth time facing him, and you can tell how much he has matured as a quarterback,” Burgbacher said. “Where his game has really grown is in his ability to run the ball. They have a few designed runs for him, but he’s also big enough — he’s 6-foot-2, 215 pounds — to do some damage when he decided to run the ball.
“He’s very effective running the ball, which is something we’ve seen more of this year. They have thrown the ball a little more this year than they have in the past.”
Miamisburg has a number of running backs capable of carrying the load, as well. The Vikings’ leading rusher is fullback Jon Yerkins, who has 42 carries for 339 yards and fur touchdowns. Halfback Zion Lewis has 58 carries for 217 yards and four touchdowns.
The team’s leading receiver is Drew Barry, who has 11 carries for 140 yards and one touchdowns. Jackson Myers has five catches for 85 yards and two scores. The offense lines up behind a typically massive Miamisburg offensive line.
“They’ve got a fullback with very good speed,” Burgbacher said. “Their other running back, Zion Lewis, played a little bit last year and is a very good running back. They’ve got a typical Miamisburg offensive line. They are big and they can move.
“They are going to run back sweep. They are going to run guard-trap. They are going to run the belly and run the dive. They are big and they are physical. Honestly, if I wasn’t checking the names and numbers, I would have thought I was looking at the same film from a different year. They don’t replace, they reload.”
Defensively, Miamisburg has switched back to a 4-4 defense after using the 4-3 for several years. The Vikings are giving up just 178.8 yards per game — second in the 20-team Greater Western Ohio Conference behind Troy (158.0 yards per game) — and just 8.5 points per game.
“They are stout up front with their four defensive linemen,” Burgbacher said. “They’ve got two of the better inside linebackers around with Cael Parkhurst and Jackson Myers. They’ve got tall, lanky defensive ends who can run. They’ve got three really good outside linebackers they’ll rotate in.
“They’ll mix their coverages up — they’ll play some zone and some man. They’ll blitz. They don’t blitz all the time, but they are always going to be very aggressive on defense.”
Friday’s game has been designated a ‘Gold Out’ to help raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Commemorative gold T-shirts are being sold at both schools during school hours. Fans of both schools are encouraged to wear gold to the game. A pair of ambassadors have been designated for the game: Collin Cioffi, an eight-grade student at St. Patrick School in Troy, and Mattie Magill, a senior member of the Miamisburg marching band.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong