By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — First-year Troy football coach Dan Gress already knows how to address the team’s bigger rivalries.
While addressing the large crowd present for Troy’s fifth annual Scarlet and Gray Intrasquad Scrimmage Saturday at Ferguson Field, he referred to Tippecanoe as “the team down South” and discussed the rumors of what went on at the Red Devils’ meet-the-team day the previous day — like that chants of “Beat Troy! Beat Troy!” broke out there.
“We’re going to work hard in silence. Our success will be our noise,” he told the fans packing the bleachers and lining the fences to get their first look at this year’s Trojans in action.
Once the players had all been introduced and the festivities were over, Gress explained that motto in a little more detail, wanting to make sure his Trojans ignore any distractions and stay focused on more important things — particularly their own effort and execution.
“If we stay focused on ourselves and keep working how we are, when it’s time to strap them up, our success will come,” he said. “We can’t look too far down the road. We have to take each day by day, but when it’s go-time, that work will speak for itself and we won’t have to say anything about it.”
And if Saturday’s scrimmage was an indication, Troy’s defense will have a lot to say on the field.
During the first set of 10 varsity reps, the defense didn’t give up much ground — in fact, it would have put up points. J.J. McCoy stuffed a sweep in the backfield and forced a fumble, a fumble that would have turned into a scoop-and-score by a teammate in a game situation.
“That’s a testament of the mentality we wanted our defense to come in with,” Gress said. “They’re going to be lined up in the correct position, they’re going to know exactly what’s expected of them that play to execute, and then we’re just going to play fast. Us coaches, we believe we’ve got some really good players. So let’s put them in position to be those great players.”
The offense began to get its bearings near the end of the series, with Kevin Walters taking a run up the middle for a solid gain and then quarterback Brayden Siler capping off the 10 plays by hitting A.J. Heuker down the sideline.
The scrimmage also had a number of other various matchups. Blake Klemt hit Will Wolke on a slant over the middle for a short touchdown against the freshman defense, then Owen Davis threw a touchdown pass to Chris Williams during the juniors against sophomores portion. Wolke finished things off with a 40-yard touchdown run.
“Varsity only got a total of 20 reps, and the biggest thing was that this was a chance for guys to go out and prove themselves, those that are trying to fight for positions. But we’ve already, throughout camp, put these kids in positions to compete and get meaningful reps to prepare them for the season,” Gress said. “I can tell you what I liked so far is that offensively and defensively, there is no question with the kids right now of what’s expected of them and how to execute. They can go out there and just play fast.
“On top of that, it’s still a long season. We’re nowhere near where we need to be for Week 10 yet.”
In the end, though, the scrimmage gave everyone present exactly what they were after — a small taste of football before the main course in a few weeks.
“I’m a huge fan of the Scarlet and Gray scrimmage and getting these fans out here,” Gress said. “There’s nothing like football in Troy, Ohio. There really isn’t. People from around the county, Dayton, other states, college coaches, they come in, and they know Troy, Ohio, because of Troy football.
“Anytime we can do something like this that the community’s involved in, it’s so special because of how much football means to this community, and how much community means to this football team.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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