By David Fong
TROY — Matt Burgbacher didn’t have to look up how many plays Sam Jackson and Zach Boyer had participated in during the Troy football team’s 10-6 win over Trotwood-Madison last weekend.
The uniforms told the Troy coach all he needed to know.
“You know, I do all the laundry for the team, and when I got to Sam and Zach’s jerseys, they were soaked,” Burgbacher said. “You could tell they had been in on a lot of plays. We’ve got to be smart about how we manage their snaps.”
Jackson, a sophomore, went both ways at running back and strong safety for the Trojans, while Boyer, a junior, played both cornerback and receiver for the Trojans. While Burgbacher admired their gutsy efforts, it’s not something he hopes to do a whole lot of moving forward. He’d much rather limit their plays in an effort to keep them fresher during games.
“We’ve taken Sam off almost all of our special teams — because he’s on almost all of those, too,” Burgbacher said. “Both of those guys do an amazing job, but it’s hard to keep those guys fresh when they are going both ways … especially for Sam, who is playing at running back, which means he’s getting hit on every play.”
Burgbacher said he also plans on shuffling some personnel around in an effort to limit the amount of plays Jackson and Boyer are getting every Friday.
Jackson should be aided by the return of Marc Scordia, who was limited by a preseason ankle injury against Trotwood. As his ankle continues to heal, Scordia — the team’s leading rusher last season — should see in increased workload out of the backfield. Senior Josh Browder also ran well against the Rams, giving Burgbacher a number of options at running back.
“We feel like we’ve got three running backs we can count on in Scordia, Jackson and Browder,” Burgbacher said. “We feel comfortable putting in any one of those guys.”
Junior receiver Sam Coleman likely will get more reps at wide receiver in an effort to lessen Boyer’s workload. Should the Trojans need Boyer on offense, Zion Taylor or sophomore Kobe Feltner could see more time at cornerback.
Burgbacher saw this coming last year.
A half dozen sophomores already have worked their way into the starting line-up for the Trojans this season, either on offense, defense or special teams.
The aforementioned Jackson is starting at both strong safety and running back, Spencer Klopfenstein is the Trojans’ starting tight end and Gage Forsythe — who already stands 6-feet tall and weighs 293 pounds — is starting at defensive tackle. Shane Shoop, meanwhile, plays on nearly every special teams unit, Feltner returns kickoffs and Jacob Adams is the older an field goals and extra points.
That so many youngsters are contributing so soon is of little surprise to Burgbacher, who got a glimpse of what they could do last season while they were playing on the freshman team.
“We knew last year when we would watch the freshman games there was a lot of talent coming,” he said. “The biggest thing they’ve done for us — in addition to contributing on Friday nights — is the competition they’ve given us on the practice field. They push everyone on this team and make them better.
“Most of our scout team is made up of those younger guys. Our scout teams are excellent. They did a great job getting us ready for Trotwood-Madison. Shane Shoop did an excellent job simulation (Trotwood running back) Raveion Hargrove in practice last week. The scout team players have one of the toughest jobs of the team — they have to learn the other team’s offense and defense and be able to do what they do in practice every week.”
Inside linebacker Michael Murray had a monster game against Trotwood, registering 11 tackles — most of which were on Hargrove, the Rams’ superstar tailback. Last season, Hargrove rushed for more then 3,000 yards and scored 39 touchdowns, while averaging 229 rushing yards per game.
Against the Trojans, he had 17 carries for just 75 yards.
Much of what Murray was able to accomplish came in large part to the largely unseen efforts of the other inside linebacker lined up next to him, a duty shared by senior Jacob Stewart and junior Jack Schwausch. Those two were spent much of the game taking on Trotwood’s fullback — in most cases 5-foot-11, 230 pound Anthony Parker — on the Rams’ isolation plays.
“Our inside linebackers did a great job,” Burgbacher said. “Murray had 11 tackles and our other inside linebackers did a great job taking on their fullback, taking him out of the play and allowing Murray to make plays. Those guys were really our unsung heroes. By taking out their fullback, we made Raveion run places he didn’t want to run.
“Then our outside linebackers, Will Brumfield and John Wehrkamp, did a great job sealing the outside and not letting him get anywhere when he tried to bounce things outside. Brumfield is out there playing with a broken finger and Wehrkamp … I’ll tell you what, if I’m ever getting in a fight, he’s a kid I want to take with me. He’s just a hard-nosed kid.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong