By David Fong
COLUMBUS — Since the day he arrived in Troy, Matt Burgbacher has preached that when it comes to building a football team, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
The Trojan coach knows, however, that sometimes talented parts can make the team that much better.
After a magical 10-2 season that saw the Trojans win a Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division title and advance to the regional semifinals, four Troy football players received Division II All-Ohio honors, as voted on by a state media panel.
Senior quarterback Hayden Kotwica, senior running back Josh Browder and senior offensive lineman Travis Hall all were named second-team All-Ohio, while junior defensive lineman Joah Schricker was named third-team All-Ohio. It was the most All-Ohio players Troy has had in a single season in more than two decades.
“It’s great recognition for our program and great recognition for our kids,” Burgbacher said. “It also shows the respect the state of Ohio has for our program. Those four kids are very deserving of those awards, but they would be the first to tell you that they couldn’t have done it alone. They were able to accomplish what they did because of their teammates. Having a great team this year went a long way in showing people around the state that Troy football is back.”
A three-year starter for the Trojans, Kotwica completed 120 of 213 passes for 1,852 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. He also carried the ball 161 times for 798 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“The biggest thing about Hayden is he’s a competitor,” Burgbacher said. “His biggest critic is himself, which I think helped make him into the player he is. His upside is huge. Whichever college gets him is getting a kid who is not done hitting his full potential. He’s grown a lot the past two years, but I can tell you he’s only going to get better. And he’s going to work every day to get better.”
Browder had a breakout senior season, carrying the ball 190 times for 1,467 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 23 receptions for 437 yards and five touchdowns.
“He’s the best natural talent I’ve ever coached,” Burgbacher said. “He’s just so explosive. When Josh wants to go, he goes — and there’s not many people that can keep up with him. Sometimes I’d be watching one of his runs on the sidelines and just4 say, ‘Wow.’ He’s an incredible athlete.”
Clearing the way for Kotwica and Browder was the 6-foot-4, 308-pound Hall, who graded out as Troy’s most efficient offensive lineman and led the team in pancake blocks. Hall was a three-year starter for the Trojans — and, entering the season, Troy’s lone returning offensive lineman.
“He’s a big teddy bear,” Burgbacher said. “Off the field, he’s the nicest kid you’d ever want to meet. He’s just a nice, respectful kid. But when he walks across those lines, he turns it on. The comforting thing coming into this season was we knew we only had one lineman coming back — but we knew the one we had back was Travis Hall. He took those four new guys under his wing and showed them how we do things.”
Schricker finished the season with 78 tackles. He also led the team in sacks (7.5) and was second on the team in tackles for loss (15). He recovered one fumble for the Trojans.
“He’s a quiet assassin,” Burgbacher said. “He’s a kid that doesn’t say a whole lot; he just wants to play football. He’s a kid who has earned everything he’s got. In the weightroom he doesn’t miss a set; he doesn’t miss a rep. If you tell him to do five sets, he’s going to do five sets — and then do one more. He’s one of the strongest kids we’ve got — and we only expect him to get bigger and stronger. We look for bigger and better things from him next year.”
* Division III
A pair of Piqua Indians were named All-Ohio in Division III on Tuesday.
Senior offensive lineman Nate Monnin was named first team All-Ohio, while senior defensive lineman Tristen Cox earned a spot on the second team.