By David Fong
TROY — Well, at least it won’t be anything the Troy football team isn’t used to.
All season — from blazing heat to torrential rains — the Troy football team has battled the weather and the field conditions it sometimes creates.
It appears as though Friday will be no different.
With heavy rains falling all week, Troy (9-1) and Cincinnati Harrison (7-3) have the potential to be playing on a muddy, or at the very least slippery, field Friday night on Troy Memorial Stadium’s natural-grass surface when they meet in a Division II regional quarterfinal playoff game. Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said it’s not something about which his team is particularly concerned.
“We always talk to our kids about only worry about the things you can control,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “One thing you definitely can’t control is the weather. Sure, you may have to make some adjustments to what you do, but there’s not much you can do about that. We will make do with what we have. It’s not like our kids aren’t used to play in this. We played in it a few times last year. We’ve played in it a few times this year.
“We’ve had to practice in it several times this year. For us, it’s not really a huge deal. Offensively, what we do has never really depended on having a dry surface. Our plan is to come out and continue to do the things we’ve been doing all season.”
Harrison is primarily a passing team on offense, while Troy relies more heavily on the run. Burgbacher said he’s not sure either offense particularly benefits or will be hindered more than the other based on the field conditions.
“Both teams have to play in it,” Burgbacher said. “I’m not sure it gives either team an advantage. I think we’ll both be on pretty equal ground.”
And, for a change, Troy will be taking on a team that is used to playing on a grass surface. Harrison does not have artificial turf. This will be the first team Troy has played this season that does not play its home games on artificial turf.
“We are two of the only teams in our region that do not play on turf,” Burgbacher said. “I’m not sure about all of the Cincinnati teams, but the only teams in the region I know of that play on grass are us, Harrison and Fairborn.”
Of course, there is some historical precedent for Troy playing in the rain and mud. In fact, Troy’s first playoff game — against Toledo Catholic Central in 1985 — was played in a muddy bog at Troy Memorial Stadium. In that game, the Trojans held a slim lead going into halftime. At halftime, Troy Athletic Hall of Fame coach Steve Nolan had his team change out of the muddy silver pants the Trojans wore for home games and into the dry, red pants they wore for road games.
Nolan said the move had a huge psychological effect on his team.
“When we told the kids in the locker room, you would have seen them — they went nuts,” Nolan said. “You never know what is going to get a kid charged up. That definitely did it. They were going crazy and practically kicked down the door to go play the second half.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong