Two cities. Two teams. One game. One title.
This, it would seem, is what the football gods intended when they created the Troy vs. Piqua rivalry and ordained it one of the greatest in the history of high school football. This Friday, Troy and Piqua will meet for the 132nd time and it will have more meaning — and more at stake — than any meeting between the two in recent history.
Sure, the game has always been played for pride — and you can never short shrift just how much that pride means to both teams, both schools and both communities — but this game has an added sheen, as the winner will walk away with sole possession of the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division title.
It’s winner-takes-all. The loser of the game will have to settle for second place. There will be no sharing of anything with anyone when the final whistle blows Friday in Alexander Stadium.
For all the glorious history between the two teams, it’s been a long time since either team has been able to lay claim to sole possession of a conference, league or division title. In fact, you’d have to go back to a time before just about every player who will take the field in Friday’s game was even born.
Piqua’s last division title came in 2006, but that was was a shared title as both Piqua and Northmont both went 4-1 in the GWOC West Division. Troy’s last piece of a conference title came in 2000, when the now-defunct Greater Miami Valley Conference title was split three ways between Troy, Piqua and Butler.
To find the last time Troy won an outright title you have to go back to 1998, when a team led by Kris Dielman and Ryan Brewer blew through the rest of the GMVC to lay claim to the crown. The Indians’ last outright title was in 1994, when Bryan Magoteaux and Antwon Jones helped lead the team to a 10-0 regular season and an eventual spot in the Division II state semifinals.
In other words, a lifetime ago for the Trojans and Indians who will play for it all this Friday.
So when, exactly, is the last time Troy and Piqua played for a league, conference or division title? That’s not an easy question to answer, because it’s only been recently that the Troy-Piqua game was moved back to the final game of the regular season. Since 2012, the Trojans and Indians have played in the final game of the season. At no time in the past four years were both teams serious contenders for a division title.
Prior to 2012, the last time Troy and Piqua played in the final week of the regular season was a two-year stretch in 1988 and 1989. Before 1988, the last time the Trojans and Indians had played in the final game of the regular season was 1959. In the history of the rivalry — which dates back to the 1899 — the two teams have played in the final game of the season only 47 times, 39 of which were played prior to 1949, when the game was traditionally played as part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
So while the two teams have played in historic match-ups that would go a long way in deciding who was crowned the division champion, many they took place in the middle of the season and both teams still had to win more division games in order to ultimately win a division title.
For example, in 1998, Troy won the GMVC title, while Piqua finished second in the conference. The two teams met in Week 8, however. So while Troy would win that game — and it would be Piqua’s lone GMVC loss — Troy still had to win its final two games against conference opponents Northmont and Greenville in order to claim the title. Had Troy stumbled in those final two games, the win over Piqua wouldn’t have mattered in the long run.
But that was then and this is now. The two teams not many expected to run the table in the American North — Troy because of its recent historical struggles and Piqua because of key injuries suffered early in the season — and finish 4-0 in North play heading into Week 10 have done just that.
This is it … Troy vs. Piqua for the whole shooting match. One team — and only one team — will be crowned champion.
It’s a game some have been waiting a lifetime to see.
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong