By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — John Wehrkamp and Matt Burgbacher were among the best the Greater Western Ohio Conference had to offer this fall.
But they didn’t there alone.
Wehrkamp, a senior outside linebacker on the Troy football team, was named Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division Defensive Player of the Year, while Burgbacher was named GWOC American North Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.
“You know, it’s always nice to be recognized by people outside of your program, who don’t see what you are doing on a daily basis and only play you once a year,” Burgbacher said. “All of these awards are voted on by the coaches in the league, so it’s nice that they recognize what we are doing as a program. And that’s exactly what these are — these are program awards.
“I know Johnny would be the first to tell you that he couldn’t have done what he did this season without all of the other guys we had on defense. He was able to get recognized because of what our defense accomplished as a team. And I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the players and my assistant coaches. These awards just show us that our program as a whole is headed in the right direction.”
Wehrkamp finished the season with 94 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, 12 quarterback hurries, four fumble recoveries, two blocked kicks and three tackles inside the 20 on kickoff coverage. He also was named first-team All-Southwest District and third-team All-Ohio.
“When I would talk to opposing coaches in warm-ups, they would all talk about how much they loved No. 33 (Wehrkamp) and how they wished they could have a player just like him,” Burgbacher said. “Johnny put in a lot of hard work and it showed this season. He’s one of the most physical football players I’ve ever been around — I have never seen him avoid contact. At the position he plays, he’s always going up against guys bigger than him — he was never being blocked by a guy smaller than him. He was always taking on tackles and tight ends.
“He’s a kid who is always upbeat —I don’t think he ever has a bad day. As good as he was on the field, he was as good from Saturday through Thursday. He went just as hard in practice as he did if we were playing Piqua. That’s just the kind of kid Johnny is. He’s an incredible intense and enthusiastic kid. He loves being out there and he loves playing the game of football.”
Burgbacher led the Trojans to an 8-3 season and their second consecutive division title, the first time that has happened since a four-year run of conference championships from 1995-98 in the now-defunct Greater Miami Valley Conference. He also led Troy to its second playoff appearance in a row, the first time that has happened since 2010-11.
“Again, I had great assistants and great players,” Burgbacher said. “This award isn’t about me. This is about what our program accomplished.”
In addition to being named the defensive player of the year, Wehrkamp also was named first-team All-GWOC (all four divisions) and first-team All-GWOC American North. Joining him on both the All-GWOC team and All-GWOC North first team was senior defensive back Zach Boyer.
A four-year starter for the Trojans, Boyer finished his senior season with 59 tackles, five interceptions and three tackles for loss.
“Zach had an outstanding season,” Burgbacher said. “Not only did he continue to grow as a football player, but as a team leader. He really stepped up and provided valuable leadership for us this season.”
Also named first-team All-GWOC American North for the Trojans were junior running back Jaydon-Culp Bishop, junior tight end Spencer Klopfenstein, senior offensive lineman Kameron Block, senior receiver Matt McGillivary, senior defensive linemen Joah Schricker and Christian Nation, junior linebacker Shane Shoop, senior defensive back Derek McDonagh and junior defensive back Sam Jackson.
Junior linebacker Blake Burton, senior quarterback Sam Coleman and senior offensive lineman Drew Smith all earned second-team North honors.
For Tippecanoe, senior running back Cole Barhorst, senior defensive back Justin Everette, senior linebacker Matt Garber and senior kicker Caiden Smith all were named first-team All-GWOC American North. Junior running back Josh Burritt, senior defensive back Russell Ramsey and junior defensive lineman Josh Walland all earned second-team honors. Junior offensive lineman Grant Heatherly earned special mention.
Piqua senior receiver Hayden Schrubb, senior offensive lineman Colton Meyer and senior linebacker Ben Schmiesing earned All-GWOC and first-team All-GWOC North honors. Joining them on the All-GWOC North first team were senior quarterback Austin Davis and senior defensive lineman Derek Hite. Junior defensive lineman Zayne Arbogast, junior offensive lineman Caden Clark, senior linebacker James Congdon and senior receiver Cale Meckstroth were named to the second team. Junior linebacker Micah Karn and junior defensive lineman Brennan Toopes earned special mention.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong