By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — With a pair of quality teams coming in for a tri-scrimmage Friday night, Troy football coach Dan Gress had one question for his players.
“Are you going to bring it, or not?” he said. “Our big buzzword all week was are you going to come out and compete and bring it to the person across the line of scrimmage from you?”
And in that respect, Gress had to like what he saw from the Trojans Friday night as they scrimmaged Lebanon and Lima Senior at Troy Memorial Stadium. In both scrimmages, Troy’s offense showed it could move the ball, and the defense showed it could stop the other team for the most part — but in both, the Trojans also gave up a handful of big plays, as well.
In other words, it was a typical first scrimmage.
“The No. 1 thing is we can correct simple mistakes like that — blown coverages, guys not being in the right spot,” Gress said. “That’s what film is for, and that’s what us coaches are here for. But my biggest thing that I’ve been preaching all week was that Lebanon and Lima Senior are two top-notch teams, so I wanted to see how the boys were going to come out and compete.
“You’re either going to bring it, or you’re not — that’s what we kept telling the players all week. You’re either going to compete every play, or you’re not going to compete. And don’t be okay with losing — and if you do lose, you’d better come back that next play and go again just as hard.”
Troy began the night taking on Lebanon, with both teams trading 10-play series on offense then defense twice. And the Trojans’ defense looked tough right away, forcing a fumble and covering it up on the first play of the night. Troy looked solid against the run on the next six plays, too, until the Warriors broke a 17-yard touchdown run up the middle. And after another run for no gain, Lebanon’s quarterback connected on a short slant over the left side that turned into a 41-yard touchdown pass, giving Lebanon two scores in its first offensive series.
Troy marched right down the field once it got the ball, though. Kevin Walters found room for nine yards up the gut, then quarterback Brayden Siler hit Evan Jones with a screen pass for a 23-yard gain. After two short runs, Siler kept it himself for a 5-yard touchdown run for the only score of its first series.
“With Brayden, we know what we have,” Gress said. “He’s our senior leader quarterback, and he’s going to be the leader of this team on offense. We know he can get it done with his arm. This year? We look to utilize him as well with his feet.
“Our best players this year have to touch the ball the most. And we know that.”
And that was evident all night, too. After the defense gave up a 34-yard touchdown pass to Lebanon on the next-to-last play of its final series, backup quarterback Josh Mayfield hit A.J. Heuker with a 39-yard bomb up the seam for a touchdown, giving the Trojans a total of two to Lebanon’s three and giving Troy a chance to rest while Lebanon and Lima Senior faced off.
Once they got back onto the field, the Trojans went right back to work, with Walters piling up back-to-back runs of 10 and 6 yards, Siler scampering for another 19 and then taking it in himself from 5 yards out again to start Troy out with a touchdown against the Spartans.
Troy’s defense then gave up a 5-yard touchdown pass on Lima Senior’s eighth play, as well as a 40-yard one on the Spartan’s ninth play. Troy answered with a 25-yard pass from Mayfield to Will Wolke over the middle and then, on its 10th and final offensive play of the night, an 8-yard shovel pass touchdown from Mayfield to Dawson Roby.
“We may not have that home-run hitter this year that we’ve had the last three years, but what we do have will be by committee,” Gress said. “Running back by committee behind the O-line, getting five, six, seven, eight yards every time. And it’ll even be wide receiver by committee. We have three to five receivers that not only can go out and catch that jump ball that we sometimes need, but they can also block — which, you see how important that is going to be.”
The Trojans then shut Lima Senior out in its final 10 plays, including taking away a fumbled snap halfway through. The Spartans got the ball to the 12-yard line but could not advance it from there over the final five plays, allowing Troy to finish with a 2-2 tie.
It was also the first time Dawson Hildebrand — a 6-foot-3, 332-pound junior transfer from Newton High School — was able to take on competition other than his own teammates on the football field.
“Dawson, he’s new to football,” Gress said “He transferred in from Newton, and this is his first year playing football really, unless you count peewee. And what we love about him is that he fits right in with our O-line and D-line work ethic. Those guys are our hardest workers, and he fits right into that mold. He’s very raw, but he’s got the work ethic and determination to give it a shot and see what he can do.”
Once the night’s action was over, Gress addressed the team and made sure they were all concentrating on one goal.
“We want to be 1-0 after Week 1. That’s all we should be focused on,” he said.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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