By David Fong
TROY — If the Troy football team loses one more game, its playoff dreams will come to an abrupt halt.
Truthfully, though, that’s been the case for the Trojans for the past seven weeks, right up through the final game of the season.
They just didn’t realize it at the time.
Tonight, Troy (8-2) will play at Cincinnati Anderson (9-1) in a Division II regional quarterfinal playoff game. Last week, the Trojans knew a win over rival Piqua would secure tonight’s playoff berth. They also knew a loss would have put them on the playoff bubble.
As things turned out, had Troy lost that game to Piqua, that bubble would have burst.
“We wouldn’t have gotten in,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “We went back and looked; if we hadn’t beaten Piqua, we wouldn’t have had enough points to get in.”
Troy started the season 1-2, but then won its final seven regular season games. Just one loss in any of those games, Burgbacher said, would have been enough to knock the Trojans from the playoffs.
“We never told the kids that, but that was the case,” Burgbacher said. “We had to win all of our games to get in. But we never really looked at it that way with the kids. We always just focused on the game we were playing that week. The most important game of the season was always our next game.”
Against the run
There’s a good chance Troy won’t see much of the running game against Anderson, which will frequently empty out its backfield and play with five wide receivers. In last year’s meeting between the two teams, the Redskins passed the ball 81 times.
That’s probably a good thing for Anderson, because teams had little to no success running the ball against the Trojan defense this season.
Troy faced seven of the top 10 Greater Western Ohio Conference rushers during the regular season and none of them were able to crack the 100-yard mark against the Trojans. Troy held four of those seven to 50 yards or less.
The GWOC’s leading rusher was Sidney’s Isaiah Bowser, who rushed for 2,389 yards this season. Against Troy, however, he had 24 carries for 68 yards. It was the only game he didn’t rush for 100 or more yards, having rushed for at least 400 yards in one game, 300 yards in two games, 200 yards in four games and 100 yards in two games.
The second-leading rusher in the GWOC was Trotwood’s Raveion Hargove, who had 12 carries for 43 yards against Troy — although, in fairness, he didn’t need to carry much of the load in his team’s 48-0 win. The No. 3 rusher in the GWOC was Troy’s Jaydon-Culp Bishop.
The remaining top 10 rushers Troy faced were: No. 5 Sincere Wells of Xenia (56 yards), No. 7 Logan Flatt of Butler (17 yards), No. 8 Cole Barhorst of Tippecanoe (89 yards), No. 9 K.J. Redmon of Fairborn (21 yards) and No. 10 Tony Clark of Miamisburg (28 yards).
Troy did not face No. 4 Devin Kenerly of Northmont or No. 6 Kaden Wenger of Beavercreek. All of the top 10 rushers in the GWOC had 1,000 or more yards this season.
This will be the fourth time Troy and Anderson have played. In addition to last year’s game — a 41-35 Troy victory at Troy Memorial Stadium in the regional quarterfinals — the two teams also played a home-and-home series in 1995-96.
Troy won both of those games. In the first game, played at Anderson, Troy won 33-32 in overtime when Anderson missed an extra point conversion. It would be one of three Troy victories in overtime that season.
The two teams met again in 1996 at Troy Memorial Stadium, with Troy winning 44-10.
Current Troy linebackers coach Jason Manson played in both of those Trojan victories. Also on those teams were former Trojan standouts such as Kris Dielman, Ryan Brewer and Matt Dallman, to name just a few.
Pre-sale tickets for the game will remain on sale in the Troy Athletic Office until 3 p.m. today. Pre-sale tickets are $8; tickets will be $9 at the gate. Troy receives a percentage of pre-sale ticket money.
Also, all fan seating for the game is on one side of the stadium — there are no “visitors stands.” Troy will have a block of seats reserved from the 50-yard line to the scoreboard.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong