By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
TROY — Matt Burgbacher is going home.
After four largely successful seasons as the Troy High School football coach, Burgbacher announced Tuesday his plans to leave Troy to take over as the head coach at Tippecanoe High School this coming. Burgbacher is a 1995 Tippecanoe graduate. His father Charlie, currently Troy’s defensive coordinator, was the head coach at Tippecanoe for 26 years, becoming the winningest coach in program history.
“Obviously this was a very difficult decision for me, because I love it here,” Burgbacher said of Troy. “This is a great job. There are great people, a great coaching staff and, most of all, great kids. But there are a few things I had to consider after I had been contacted by Tippecanoe. First, it’s my alma mater. Second, Tippecanoe had football long before Charlie Burgbacher got there, but for the 26 years Charlie Burgbacher was there, the team was very successful, and he had a big influence on that.”
Burgbacher — who also will leave his job as an intervention specialist at Troy High School and is expected to become a teacher at Tippecanoe — should be officially be approved at a Tipp City Schools Board of Education meeting later this month. He replaces Joel Derge, who resigned in early January after going 26-17 and reaching the playoffs twice in four seasons.
“I think this has always been a destination job for me. In my heart and in my gut, the more I talked to people at Tipp, the more it just felt right. It’s nothing Troy did wrong; that’s not the case at all,” Burgbacher said. “I know I’m leaving a great situation. The kids did everything we ever asked of them. I wasn’t looking to leave Troy. I had received phone calls from high-profile programs the last couple of years, but I never considered leaving, because it wasn’t the right situation. This just happened to be a situation where everything fell into place perfectly.”
After going 2-8 his first season at Troy — the Trojans had been 8-22 in the three years prior to his arrival — Burgbacher began a three-year run of success the program hadn’t seen since the 1990s. Troy went a combined 28-7 the past three years, winning three-straight Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division titles and going 15-0 in North play.
The Trojans also qualified for the Division II playoffs each of those three seasons, the first time they had done that since 1995-97. Troy went 10-2 in 2016, 8-3 in 2017 and 10-2 last fall. The Trojans reached the Division II regional semifinals in both 2016 and 2018. Burgbacher was named the GWOC American North Coach of the Year each of the past three years and the All-Southwest District Division II Coach of the Year in 2016.
“Matt did a great job of connecting with his players and was able to get the most out of them, both on the field and in the classroom,” Troy athletic director Dave Palmer said. “Once the kids bought into what he was doing and what his idea of Troy football was all about, they started to experience success on the field. Although we are obviously sad to see Matt go, we appreciate all he did for this program in his four years here. We wish both Matt and his family well in their future endeavors. We want to see Matt do well at Tippecanoe, except for one game every year.”
Troy will play Tippecanoe in a Miami Valley League contest in Week 4 this fall.
Palmer said Troy will move quickly to find a replacement for Burgbacher.
“We’ll have to post the position, then start collecting resumes,” he said. “We’ll proceed as quickly as possible. This is a very desirable job. The cupboard is not bare here. We’ve had great success the past few years with our junior varsity, freshman and junior high school programs. We’ve still got great kids at Troy. We’ve got a great football tradition. We’ve got a great coaching staff in place here. I think this is a job a lot of coaches will be interested in.”
Burgbacher said he feels as though he is leaving the program in good shape and leaving his returning players will be the hardest part of his departure.
“It’s going to be tough leaving these kids,” he said. “It’s like I’ve always told them, ‘Why have we been so successful the last few years? It’s because of you guys. Yes, I had a part in it, but you were the nucleus.’ One of the great things about the coaching profession is that they will always remain your kids. I’ve still got former players at Fort Loramie and they are still ‘my guys.’ I hope the Troy kids will feel the same way. They can still get ahold of me any time they want and I’ll still be there for them.”
Burgbacher began his coaching career at Tippecanoe in 2004 as an assistant under his father. He became Fort Loramie’s head coach in 2009. The Redskins would make the playoffs all six of his years as head coach as he amassed a combined record of 51-18.
He said he’ll look to meet with his future players at Tippecanoe and start working with that program as soon as possible, but will be sure to tie up any loose ends at Troy during his final few months. He said his father Charlie will join him at Tippecanoe, likely in the same capacity there.
“I’m still going to do my due diligence here,” he said. “I want to finish up (college) recruiting here, especially since spring is such a crucial time for the sophomores and juniors. These guys are still my guys, and I want to be very proactive in the recruiting process for them. The first thing I want to do at Tippecanoe is meet the kids. I know some of them, because I’m familiar with the town, but I don’t know all of them yet. I’m at peace with my decision to leave, because I know for the last four years, I gave everything I could to this program.
“If I had to guess, I’d say my dad already has a lot of his stuff packed up. There will be a place for him on my staff at Tippecanoe, if he’s interested. Throughout this whole process, my dad never told me what I should do. He listened a lot. Dad saw both sides of things. On the one hand, why would we ever want to leave what we have going at Troy? But he also saw the other side … this is my alma mater and my home.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong