By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
PIQUA — It is a week few high school football players ever get to experience.
And for the fifth straight year, even more will be on the line.
That’s right — it is Piqua-Troy week.
The Trojans lead the series 65-63-6.
And for the fifth year in a row, the Indians go in needing a win to advance to the postseason — something they last accomplished in 2015.
“It is always good for the rivalry when these two teams are having good seasons,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “It just adds to the rivalry.”
And for the Piqua seniors it will be a chance to end Troy’s three-game winning streak in the series — as well as get into the postseason and share the. MVL Miami Division title.
Troy go into Friday’s game at Troy Memorial Stadium with a 7-2 record overall and 6-1 in the MVL, while Piqua is 5-4 overall and 5-2 in the MVL.
And the significance of the game is not lost on the Piqua seniors.
Senior linebacker/running back Makeegen Kuhn understands few players get to experience a week like this.
“You have to have an appreciation for it,” Kuhn said with a smile. “Even as a kid, I always loved going to the Piqua-Troy game.”
Senior offensive lineman Riley Hunt and Jonathan Delasancha agree.
“Everything is different about this week,” Delasancha said. “There is a different intensity in practice. I have never beaten Troy, so it would mean a lot to get a win and start a new trend this year.”
“It is a special week,” he said. “There is a lot going on. You just have to find a way to stay focused. It is a different feeling when you take the field for this game. Especially when it is at Troy. You are just ready to get after it.”
It will be matchup of the two stingiest defenses in the MVL Miami Division, who can mix it up with big plays on offense. Troy is allowing just 10.4 points in conference games, while Piqua is surrendering 14 points a game in the MVL.
Troy has a dual threat quarterback in senior Brayden Siler (6-1, 203).
He has rushed for 852 yards and nine touchdowns on 157 carries, while completing 62 of 112 passes for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns, with four interceptions.
Senior running back Kevin Walters (6-0, 195) has rushed for 1,064 yards and 11 touchdowns on 156 carries.
Senior Austin Stanaford (6-4, 180) leads the receivers with 13 catches for 292 yards and four touchdowns.
Junior Nicholas Barr (6-0, 184) has 15 catches for 200 yards and sophomore Josh Mayfield (6-0, 179) has 11 catches for 162 yards.
“The quarterback or running back will have their hands on the ball almost every play,” Nees said. “And he (Brayden Siler) has still thrown for almost 1,000 yards as well. Their offensive line is big and does a great job.”
Troy will operate out of an odd front on defense.
Sophomore linebacker Evan Jones (6-0, 202) leads the defense with 72 tackles.
Senior defensive lineman Austan Good (5-11, 204) has 70 tackles and 3.5 sacks, while junior linebacker Austin Johnson (5-10, 185) has 61 tackles.
Junior defensive lineman Alex Greene (6-2, 198) leads pass rush with four sacks, while senior defensive back Weston Smith (5-9, 165) is a ball hawk, leading the MVL with six interceptions.
“They have a big defensive line and they do a great job flying to the ball,” Nees said.
Piqua’s offense likes to keep the ball on the ground, while mixing in the occasional pass.
Junior Ca’ron Coleman (5-9, 181) leads the rushing attack with 739 yards and 12 touchdown on 110 carries, one of three Piqua backs averaging more the six yards a carry.
Sophomore Jasiah Medley (6-0, 181) has 41 carries for 280 yards, while sophomore Tanner Kemp (6-0, 171) has 38 carries for 236 yards.
Junior Jerell Lewis (6-2, 252) is averaging more than five yards a carry, with 184 yards on 35 carries.
Junior quarterback Blane Ouhl (6-3, 187) has completed 28 of 68 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.
Freshman Brady Ouhl (5-11, 155) — in limited snaps — has completed nine of 17 passes for 73 yards, with a touchdown and three interceptions.
“We have a lot of talented running backs,” Nees said. “And the offensive line has done a good job.”
Lewis leads the Indians even-front defense.
He has 45 tackles from his defensive end position and leads the MVL with 9.5 sacks, while forcing two fumbles and recovering two fumbles.
Kuhn (6-2, 214) can be a ball-hawk from his linebacker position.
He leads the team with 48 tackles, has forced two fumbles and recovered four.
Junior defensive tackle Lance Reaves-Hicks (6-1, 286) has 31 tackles and 4.5 sacks, while Coleman has 39 tackles and two sacks from his linebacker position and Kemp has 31 tackles and two forced fumbles from his linebacker position.
Senior defensive end Hudson Hall (5-11, 197) has four sacks, sophomore defensive tackle Caleb Lyons (6-4, 288) has three sacks and sophomore defensive back Aidan Meyer (5-7, 156) leads the secondary with two interceptions.
“It (yards after catch) can be a key,” Nees said. “Sometimes, we are a little out of position. But, I have said all year, I love the way these kids fly to the ball.”
A big key may well be turnovers or big plays on special teams.
“You look at the last couple years, it always seems to come down to big plays,” Nees said.
And with all the hoopla that goes on during the week, the players are just ready to play the game Friday night.
“Of course (it is hard not to look ahead to the game),” Kuhn said. “But, you have to stay focused.”
Because it is a week like no other.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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