By David Fong
MIAMISBURG — Playing quarterback is a lot like riding a bike.
Assuming that bike is actually a unicycle that has been set on fire and you are trying to juggle running chainsaws while riding it, that is.
Troy High School senior Sam Coleman played quarterback for most of his life. But with record-setting quarterback Hayden Kotwica firmly entrenched as the Trojans’ starter the last three years, Coleman made the switch to receiver last year and played well before a broken hand prematurely ended his season.
With Kotwica’s graduation, Coleman made the move back to quarterback in the offseason and won the starting job. He quickly learned that it wasn’t going to be easy moving back to quarterback after taking that time off.
“Quarterback is the most difficult position on the field,” Coleman said. “I was definitely rusty when I moved back there, especially at the beginning of the season.”
After a shaky start, Coleman has steadily improved each week and has played his best football the past two weeks, including a 35-21 upset victory over Miamisburg Friday.
His quarterback ratings this season: Trotwood (38.6), Xenia (65.3), Bellefontaine (87.8), Fairborn (149.1) and Miamisburg (124.5).
After throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown early in the game against Miamisburg, Coleman managed the game to perfection, completing 5 of 11 passes for 88 yards and a 30-yard touchdown to tight end Spencer Klopfenstein. Not eye-popping numbers, but he also didn’t make any more mistakes after the initial one and kept Troy’s offense moving against a Division I playoff contender.
“I’m definitely starting to feel more comfortable,” Coleman said. “It was a difficult transition moving back to quarterback.”
He also had six carries for 35 yards, including a nifty 24-yard scamper that set up a Trojan touchdown. As important, he was able to get rid of the ball when needed to and didn’t take any unnecessary sacks or make any poor decisions when pressured.
“My offensive line did a great job keeping a clean pocket,” Coleman said. “A lot of times earlier in the season, I made up pressure in my head. I would start to get antsy make a mistake when I started feeling pressure.”
One play may have saved the game against Miamisburg for the Trojans.
Already down 7-0 following the Vikings’ pick six, Troy appeared headed for certain disaster when, on the first play from scrimmage following Miamisburg’s score, Troy fumbled at its own 35.
Rather than allow Miamisburg to go up two scores — a deep hole against a ground-churning, clock-burning wing-t team — Troy senior safety Zach Boyer picked off a Tate Vongsy pass at the Trojan 25 and returned it all the way to the Miamisburg 15.
Four plays later, Sam Jackson scored on a 4-yard run, tying the game at 7-7. That massive swing in momentum helped spark a 31-0 run by the Trojans.
“That was a huge play for us,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “We were in a pretty bad spot after the interception and the fumble. But our kids never quit. They just kept fighting.”
Speaking of defense
Troy defensive coordinator Charlie Burgbacher spent four decades running the wing-t as a head coach at Portsmouth Notre Dame, Covington and Tippecanoe and won more than 250 games doing so.
Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about the offense.
Even so, it would have been hard to predict just how well the elder Burgbacher and the rest of Troy’s defensive coaches had their players prepared for Miamisburg’s version of the wing-t — or just how well those players would execute that gameplan.
The numbers Troy’s defense put up against Miamisburg were, quite simply, staggering. The Vikings came into the game averaging 303.5 yards rushing per game. Troy held Miamisburg to just 21 rushing yards on 30 attempts — an average of 0.7 yards per carry.
That — along with a 31-7 deficit in the fourth quarter — forced Miamisburg to take to the air, something it usually doesn’t have to do. Vongsy threw the ball 35 times — his previous high before Friday was 17 attempts against Wayne the previous week.
His previous career-high in attempts had been 21 — which he threw against Troy last year in the regular-season meeting between the two teams.
Troy junior defensive lineman Gage Forsythe — who goes by the nickname “Peaches” — suffered an apparent ankle injury late in the game against Miamisburg, forcing Troy to do some shuffling along both the offensive and defensive lines.
The 6-foot-1, 310-pound junior has been starting at both offensive tackle and noseguard all season. When he went out, senior Zack Schwausch — a linebacker last season — came in at noseguard and finished with two tackles.
Senior guard Kameron Block moved out to tackle on the offensive line. Senior Logan Hubbard — who was a starter last year but has been coming back slowly from a broken foot suffered in the preseason — moved to Block’s spot at guard.
“We had some guys who really stepped in and played well,” Burgbacher said. “That’s what you have to do in those situations.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong