Thousands of plays were run, but a million memories were made.
Selecting the five best or most poignant isn’t always easy with so many from which to choose.
It was yet another magical season for the Troy football team, which saw its dream season come to an end with a 38-35 loss to Cincinnati Anderson in the Division II regional semifinals. While it may not have been the end the Trojans were looking for, no one could argue the weeks leading up to that were largely magic.
With a huge body of work from which to choose, I have selected what were, for me, the most memorable moments of the 2018 season for the Troy football team.
As always, your individual mileage may vary:
5. Quiet storm
It was a game that started in August and ended in September.
In the second game of the season, the Trojans faced off against a rugged Xenia squad that would go on to win the Greater Western Ohio Conference American South Division, knocking off perennial state power Trotwood along the way.
Troy appeared to have the game in hand, up 21-7 late. With less than two minutes to play in the game, however, the Buccaneers scored to cut the Trojans lead to 21-14. Xenia then recovered the onside kick. Three plays later, with 1:27 left to play in regulation, the Bucs faced a fourth-and-3 at the Trojan 43. One stop would seal the win for the Trojans.
That’s when everything came to a screeching halt.
Game officials spotted lightning far off in the distance, but according to Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, the game immediately went into a 30-minute delay. Lightning was spotted several more times, forcing a series of delays. Eventually, both sides decided late on Aug. 31 to come back the next morning and finish the game on Saturday morning, Sept. 1.
The Trojans drove all the way home and back again the next morning for a grand total of three plays. That’s because Xenia handed the ball off to bullish fullback Sincere Wells, who ran right up the middle, where he was swarmed by the Trojan defense for no gain.
All that was left was for Trojan quarterback Brayden Siler to take three knees to end the game a little more than 15 hours after it kicked off.
4. Pick Six
Troy’s offense got most of the attention all season long, as the Trojans set a number of rushing and scoring records throughout the season. That should not take away from Troy’s defense, however, which led the GWOC in most defensive categories throughout the season, allowing just 10.3 points and 195.8 yards per game.
The Trojans’ defense was based largely on its ability to stop the run, facing off against single-wing teams (Belmont), wing-t teams (Miamisburg, Turpin and Tippecanoe) and a triple-option team (Xenia). Against Sidney in Week 8, however, Troy faced its toughest test against a passing team up to that point in the season.
The Trojans responded to the challenge, with its defense picking off six passes in a 38-19 victory. Junior cornerback Weston Smith led the way with three interceptions, while cornerback Kobe Feltner and safeties Jacob Adams and Jacob Shoop each picked off one pass, giving each of Troy’s starting defensive backs at least one interceptions.
“All the film we watched on them, we knew they were going to pass,” Smith said after the game. “I was excited. I knew it was finally going to be my opportunity. I wanted to come out and show what I could do. I’ve been waiting two years for an opportunity like this. I love playing against the pass.”
3. Run JCB
Trojan running back Jaydon Culp-Bishop was outstanding all season long, as evidenced by his 2,457 rushing yards and 40 total touchdowns for the season.
In a season of performances that bordered on works of art, however, Culp-Bishop’s masterpiece came in Week 9 against Greenville. After a relatively slow start to the night — the Green Wave actually scored first, as the Trojans trailed for just the second time all year — the Trojans came storming back on the strength of Culp-Bishop’s monster night.
By the time it was all said and done, Culp-Bishop had 28 carries for 399 yards — an average of 14.3 yards per carry — and six touchdowns, scoring on runs of 2, 55, 13, 1, 35 and 53 yards. His 399 yards rushing were the third-highest total in school history, trailing only Bob Ferguson, who rushed for 529 and 475 yards to open the 1956 season. His six touchdowns were tied for the fourth-highest single-game total in school history.
Troy would win the game by a final of 48-12.
Clearing the way for Culp-Bishop were offensive linemen Nathan Garber, Jesse Westmeyer, Marshall, Brueckman, Jakob Moorman, Riley Hubbard, Ethan Freed and H-back Spencer Klopfenstein.
“My offensive line was incredible,” Culp-Bishop said after the game. “They opened up so many huge holes. I saw heaven again tonight with the holes they opened.”
2. Total Domination
Every week, Burgbacher challenges his team to churn out a “perfect game.”
In his four years at Troy, he says he has yet to get a completely flawless game — but Troy’s Division II regional quarterfinal game against Cincinnati Harrison had to be darn close. The Trojans dominated in every facet of the game, producing a 48-7 running clock win, the biggest point difference in Troy playoff history.
On defense, the Trojans held Harrison quarterback Connor Kinett, who threw for more than 2,200 in the regular season, to just 151 yards on 22-of-41 passing. Troy also held the Wildcats to just 5 yards rushing for the entire game, while sacking Kinett four times.
Culp-Bishop, meanwhile, carried the ball 31 times for 356 yards and another six touchdowns, scoring on runs of 68, 15, 2, 55, 35 and 35 yards.
“I can’t say this is perfect, because they did score a touchdown,” Burgbacher said with a smile. “But I’ll see this is the closest we’ve ever come in my four years here. Our kids played their hearts out. This was our best game of the season. I can’t say enough about these kids and what they were able to accomplish.”
1. The Catch
It was a play that will live in Trojan lore for all eternity.
Late in the game against rival Piqua, Troy had just crossed the midfield, something that had been a rarity all night as a scrappy Piqua defense had kept Troy’s usually potent offense bottled up all night.
With just a little more than four minutes to play in the game, the Trojans faced a second-and-6 at the Indian 41. Siler took the shotgun snap and rolled to his right. He came to a stop, then threw back across his body to Shane Shoop, who came back to the ball and hauled it in at the Indian 15 between a pair of Piqua defenders.
One of the defenders grabbed Shoop and appeared to have dragged him down, but Shoop was able to plant his hand on the turf, regain his balance and rumble the rest of the way into the end zone for a Trojan score. Siler booted the extra point to put the Trojans up 7-6, then the defense needed one final stand to seal the win.
With the victory, Troy took a 65-63-6 lead in the historic rivalry between the two teams. Troy also wrapped up its third outright GWOC North title in a row and solidified a playoff berth for the third year in a row.
“This is amazing,” Shoop said following the game. “I’ve never felt anything like this before. I knew I owed it to my brothers.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong