By David Fong
TROY — Revenge is a petty motivation.
It’s also one the Troy football team will not be calling upon this week in preparation for its rematch against Miamisburg in Friday’s Division II regional semifinal playoff game. The Trojans (10-1) take on the Vikings (9-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Northmont Good Samaritan Stadium.
It will be Round II for the two teams, as Miamisburg defeated Troy 21-17 in Week 5 at Troy Memorial Stadium. The Trojans went up 17-14 late in the game on Jake Anderson field goal, but Miamisburg drove the length of the field and scored the game-winner on a touchdown pass with just 8 seconds left in the game.
“We’re not really looking at this as a chance for revenge,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “We are looking at this more as a great opportunity to play a great team in the regional semifinals. I think that’s a big enough deal all by itself. At this point, when you are playing in the regional semifinals, you are talking about the elite of the elite. You are one of four teams left playing football in the region. If that’s not enough motivation for you to come out and play your best, I don’t know what is.
“And I’ll be honest with you, that last game we played was seven weeks ago. A lot has changed since then. They’ve grown and improved in the past seven weeks, and we’ve done the same thing. That last game is in the past. They are a much different team than the one we played seven weeks ago, and we have to be ready for that. We are a much different team than the one we were seven weeks ago.”
One of the biggest changes the Trojans will see out of the Vikings is the addition of fullback Jake Neatherton. After transferring from Valley View at the start of the season, Neatherton was forced to sit out the first five games of the season — including the game against Troy — per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules.
In just six games since entering the lineup, Neatherton has carried the ball 90 times for 826 yards — an average of 9.2 yards per carry — and nine touchdowns. He’s joined in the backfield of Miamisburg’s wing-t offense by junior Tony Clark, who has carried the ball 177 times for 1,196 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“They are still going to run the same plays, but obviously they are going to give the ball to the fullback more,” Burgbacher said. “When we played them in Week 5, we weren’t as worried about the fullback. Obviously this time around, we are going to have to be more aware of him.
“If you look at their stats, it seems like you can tell when a team is focusing on Clark and when a team is focusing on Neatherton. When teams focus on Clark, Neatherton has a big game. When teams focus on Neatherton, Clark has a big game. We’ve got to try to limit them both and force them to throw.”
Even that can be a dicey proposition for a defense, however. While the Vikings’ first inclination is to run the ball, sophomore quarterback Tate Vongsy is effective when called upon, having completed 62 of 98 passes for 1,140 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Against Troy, Vongsy completed 13 of 21 passes — the most he attempted in a game all season — for 164 yard and two touchdowns.
This entire offense lines up and runs behind what has to be one of the best offensive lines in the state. It is anchored by 6-foot-6, 306-pound senior guard Josh Myers, who is considered by many recruiting services the best high school offensive lineman in the nation and will play for Ohio State next season.
He’s joined on the offensive line by 6-foot-4, 260 pound tackle Cody Lamb, who will play the University of Cincinnati next season.
“Obviously this is a great challenge for us,” Burgbacher said. “Our kids are looking forward to the challenge. We’ve done a great job all season of staying focused and just worrying about the next game. This is the next game for us. The team the plays the best for 48 minutes on Friday is going to be the team that wins.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong