By David Fong
TROY — It would be kind of like Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel — and finding out he was a gallon short when he got to the end.
Or Leo Tolstoy forgetting to write the final chapter of “War and Peace.”
Or Beethoven only finishing eight symphonies.
The seniors on the Troy football team have put together a masterpiece of a season this year — but for all they have accomplished already, there remains one glaring item that’s missing.
Turned around a struggling program? Sure did. Put together the first winning record in five years? Check. Energized the Trojan fan base? Absolutely. Secured the program’s first playoff game since 2011 and the first home playoff game since 2000? Done and done.
Still, tough, there’s still a piece of the puzzle missing for Troy’s seniors … beating rival Piqua. This Friday at Alexander Stadium will mark the 132nd meeting between the two teams, with Piqua winning the past four to take a 63-62-6 lead in the series and keep Troy’s seniors from ever knowing what it feels like to win one of the biggest rivalries in Ohio high school football history.
It’s something Troy’s seniors are hoping to change Friday.
“This game means everything to us,” said senior quarterback Hayden Kotwica, who will start his third Troy-Piqua game Friday. “We were talking the other day about how with all we’ve done, we’ve still never beat Piqua. We need to get a win over Piqua. This is bigger than any game we’ve ever played in, with it being for a (Greater Western Ohio Conference American) North title.”
Both teams enter Friday’s game with 4-0 records in the GWOC American North. The winner will be crowned the undisputed division champion, something Troy has not done since 1998 and Piqua has not done since 1994. The chance to play for a title only makes the game — already such a big deal to both communities from an historical standpoint — all the more significant.
So significant, in fact, that senior outside linebacker Will Brumfield — like Kotwica, a three-year starter for the Trojans — found himself rooting for Troy’s bitter rival the last few weeks.
“I wanted Piqua to win out,” Brumfield said. “I wanted it to be us vs. them for the GWOC title. This is definitely the biggest game we’ve ever played in. It’s huge. It makes me excited just thinking about it. The last couple years, even when we’ve been 1-9, we knew that if we could could Piqua, it would have made our season. But now, it’s so much bigger than that because of what’s at stake.”
Senior free safety Jake Anderson says this Friday’s game is one he’ll remember long after his high school playing days have come to an end.
“I was looking through some of the articles about the game, and I think ‘game of a lifetime’ is a pretty good description,” he said. “I think this is something we’ll remember the rest of our lives. I think we still have a lot to prove. I think the Piqua game is a barometer for our season — we feel like we have to beat them to have a successful season.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong