By David Fong
TROY —There will come a day, in the not too distant future, when Matt Burgbacher will enjoy watching Zeke Correll steamroll opposing defenses on Saturday afternoons.
Friday night, however, is another matter entirely.
Next year, Correll will begin his football career at the University of Notre Dame, Burgbacher’s favorite college football team. This Friday, however, Correll will lead an incredibly talented offensive line against Burgbacher’s Troy football team as the Trojans (10-1) take on the Redskins (8-3) Friday at Miamisburg High School in a Division II regional semifinal playoff game.
Anderson is known for having one of the most prolific passing offenses in the state. It’s an offense Troy knows well, as the two teams have met in the regional quarterfinals each of the past two seasons. In those two games, Anderson has put up in the neighborhood of 800 passing yards and 1,000 yards in total offense.
While Anderson’s skill players are as good as one might imagine, it all starts up front with Anderson’s offensive line, which Correll — whom recruiting services have tabbed as one of the top offensive linemen in the country — anchors.
“He’s outstanding,” Burgbacher said of Correll. “But it’s not just him. They return four linemen from last season and they are all about 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 and 270 or 280 pounds. They don’t have any small guys out there. This is the best offensive line we’ve seen all year. They are all big, but they are also athletic. They are big and they can move. They don’t just come off the ball and overpower you, they are also going to pull guys all over the place. Our front seven will have their work cut out for them.”
Anderson’s offensive line has cleared the way for a typically high-powered Redskin offense.
Junior quarterback David Thompson has completed 175-of-283 passes for 2,464 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He will use a host of receivers. Eric Curless has 71 catches for 980 yards and seven touchdowns. Joey Newton has 47 catches for 783 yards and 12 touchdowns. Newton, who plays in the slot, also has 47 carries for 258 yards and a touchdown. Cooper Bushman has 13 receptions 225 yards and two touchdowns, while Ross Parrish had 17 catches for 137 yards and a score.
“Their quarterback throws a nice ball, but he’s also not afraid to run the ball,” Burgbacher said. “Hey can make all of the passes they need him to make. They love throwing short passes and getting their athletes in space, but he can also throw the ball down the field if he needs to. They graduated three receivers from last year, but they’ve got great receivers. We will need to know where Joey Newton is at all times. They’ll line him up in the slot, at receiver, they’ll put him in the backfield and they’ll even line him up at quarterback.”
Burgbacher said Anderson also is throwing the ball more than it has in previous years. Owen Koelle is the team’s leading rusher with 110 carries for 696 yards and eight touchdowns. Bennett Snyder has 86 carries for 381 yards and three touchdowns.
“One thing they are doing a little different this year is bringing in an extra offensive lineman at tight end and running more power and counter schemes. They can run the ball when they want to. If you focus too much on the outside receivers, they are going to hit you with the run game. You’ve got to be prepared for a little bit of everything.”
Anderson’s defense doesn’t get quite as much attention as the offense, but Burgbacher said it’s still talented. Last year, Anderson shut out Troy in a 33-0 victory.
“We saw last year how good their defense can be,” Burgbacher said. “They are going to run a 3-3 scheme. Their defensive line will angle hard and their three linebackers have the other gaps. Their three linebackers are very aggressive. Their defensive line is very good; they will rotate in six or seven guys and keep everyone fresh.
“On pass plays they will blitz two guys, but they won’t tip their hand, so you don’t know where they are coming from. This year, we need to do a better job with our first step, or else they will blow right by you.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong