By David Fong
TROY — There’s an old saying about falling off a horse … and immediately getting back on again.
That’s pretty much the philosophy Troy football coach Matt Burgbacher and his team are taking this week as they prepare for a Thursday night game against Xenia at Troy Memorial Stadium. The Trojans fell hard in a 48-0 Week 1 loss to Trotwood-Madison — and Burgbacher said a quick turnaround might be the best thing for them this week.
“Absolutely, it is,” Burgbacher said. “Again, the best medicine for us is getting to play a day early and get back on the field again as soon as possible. That’s one thing that makes football different than any other sport — after you play, you’ve got to wait a week before you can play again. We are anxious to get back out there and play.
“The spotlight will be on us this week, because it’s a Thursday night game and it will broadcast live on local TV. This is a chance for us to get back out there and show what we are able to do.”
The game will be televised live on MYTV Dayton 45.2, Dish 44 and Spectrum channel 995. It also will be streamed live on the following websites: abc22now.com, fox45now.com and mytvdayton.com. MYTV Dayton will be showing a Facebook Live feed directly from the game. Also, the game will be rebroadcast on WKEF (ABC 22) at noon Sunday.
While the chance to play on live television is a bonus, Burgbacher said its important his team also remains focused on the field, as he expects Xenia — which, like Troy, suffered a setback in Week 1, losing 35-6 to Beavercreek — to also be looking to exorcise some demons Thursday.
The Buccaneers are led by first-year head coach Trace Smitherman, who took over the program following a successful run at Stebbins. He led Stebbins to a 7-3 record in 2015, its best record in more than two decades. He was the Miami Valley Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2015; he also was the Southwest District Division II Coach of the Year in 2015. Burgbacher won that same Southwest District award last year.
“They’ve got an outstanding coach,” Burgbacher said. “All you have to do is look at the job he did at Stebbins. We know he is going to have his kids ready to play.”
Xenia will present an entirely different challenge for the Troy defense than the one it saw last week against the Rams. While Trotwood spread the Trojans out and took to the air — Rams quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers completed 15 of 23 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns in a little more than two quarters of work — Xenia will try to ground and pound Troy into submission with its run-heavy, triple-option attack.
Last week against Beavercreek, Xenia ran the ball 30 times, while passing just 10 times.
“They are definitely at two ends of the spectrum,” Burgbacher said of the Trotwood and Xenia offenses. “We know they are going to run the triple option, but there are so many more variations of the triple option now than there were back in the day. Trace Smitherman has been running this offense for a long time, and he’s got some wrinkles in it that you have to be aware of.”
And while Xenia will almost certainly be looking to run the ball first, when the Buccaneers do look to pass, Troy needs to be aware of stellar wide receiver Meechi Harris, a Division I college prospect who has offers from Big Ten, Southeastern Conference and Mid-American Conference schools. Last season, Harris had 41 receptions for 663 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“They’ve got a Division I stud out there at receiver, so its not like you can put all 11 guys in the box to stop the run,” Burgbacher said. “We’ve got to be disciplined on defense. We’ve got to play assignment football. If your job is to get the dive, you’ve got to take the dive. If your job is to get the quarterback, you’ve got to take the quarterback. Every guy on our defense has got to take their assignment every time. You can’t just follow the football. You’ll think they are going to run the ball, but their quarterback, Jonny Shampton Jr., does a nice job of pulling it out at the last minute and running.”
Troy’s meanwhile, will be looking to find a way of getting some momentum going after failing to do so for four quarters against Trotwood. The Trojans could muster only 146 yards in total offense and seven first downs against the Rams.
“Xenia runs a straight 5-2 defense,” Burgbacher said. “They’ll do some Cover 4, they’ll play some man, they’ll run some Cover 2 — but they are pretty much going to stay in that 5-2 defense. They are going to have seven guys in the box on every play. They are going to angle and do a lot of stuff to disrupt what you are trying to do on offense.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong