By David Fong
TROY — There are plenty of motivating factors in play for the Troy football team this week.
Revenge actually ranks at the bottom of the list.
“We have a lot to play for this week, but revenge is probably the last one of them,” said Troy coach Matt Burgbacher, whose Trojans (2-2) travel to Miamisburg (3-1) Friday night. “This is a new season and these are new teams. Sure, it’s the same name across the front of the chest, but it’s two different teams from last year.”
Last season the Trojans went 10-2, with both of those losses coming against Miamisburg. The first loss took place the fifth week of the season when the Vikings defeated the then-undefeated Trojans 21-17 when Miamisburg quarterback Tate Vongsy hooked up with Tyler Johnson on a 19-yard touchdown pass with just eight seconds to play in the game.
The two teams met again later in the season in the Division II regional semifinals — Miamisburg has since moved up to Division I this year — as the Vikings scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to come from behind for a 28-21 victory.
“There are plenty of other reasons for us to be motivated for this game besides revenge,” Burgbacher said. “For starters, we are playing a quality opponent. That in itself should be motivation for us. Second, if you look at the big picture — and that’s not something we try to do, but in this case, I don’t know that you can overlook it — there are beaucoup amounts of playoff points at stake. They are a Division I team and they are going to win a lot of games. So if we can win this game, that would mean a lot of playoff points for us.
“Third, these are the types of games you want to play in. This is the very reason you want to play competitive sports. You want to play in that great atmosphere. They’ve got a beautiful new facility and we know it’s going to be packed. There’s going to be a lot of attention on this game. Finally, last year were two of the hard-hitting football games we played all year. We played in two great high school football games last year and we anticipate this year being exactly the same. All of that should be enough motivation to want to come out and play this game.”
Offensively, Miamisburg will be running its ground-based wing-t offense. The Vikings lost a pair of Division I offensive linemen in Josh Myers (Ohio State) and Cody Lamb (Cincinnati) to graduation, but return a number of its skill position players from last year.
Leading the way is senior running back Tony Clark, who has 60 carries for 462 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Junior Jon Yerkins has 42 carries for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson Myers has 11 carries for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Vongsy and Johnson also return. Vongsy doesn’t throw often, but is effective when he does, having completed 30 of 47 passes (63.8 percent) for 537 yards and eight touchdowns, along with two interceptions. Johnson has 16 receptions for 234 yards and five touchdowns.
“Offensively, we know exactly what they are going to do — but everyone knows exactly what they are going to do; the problem is trying to stop it,” Burgbacher said. “That’s a lot easier said than done. We know they are going to pound the ball and look to mix in the pass. They’ve got the backs who can run the ball, but they’ve also got a great quarterback and receiver.
“Johnson hurt us in both games last year. Vongsy is a great wing-t quarterback. He understands his role. When he is called on to make a throw, he is very accurate. Our goal is to stop the run and try to get them to throw the ball more than they want to. But I think that’s everyone’s goal when they play Miamisburg.”
Defensively, Miamisburg has 11 new starters, but Burgbacher said the Vikings haven’t missed a beat on that side of the ball.
“Defensively, they are pretty much the exact same as they were last year,” he said. “They have 11 new starters, but two of their starters from last year aren’t starting this year — so you know they are putting their best 11 guys out there. It’s almost like they cloned their defensive ends, defensive tackle and linebackers from last year. They are new players. They have different numbers, but they play the exact same as the kids who played the last two years.
“This is a huge test we have in front of us. We know that. We are looking forward to it. These are the kinds of games you live for as a high school football player.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong