By David Fong
TROY — Most everyone involved with the 2014 Troy football season — players, coaches and fans alike — would probably just as soon it be buried and forgotten forever.
Perhaps, though — if for no other reason than the hope that history does not repeat itself — it’s important to take one last look back at the 2014 season in the final installment of the Troy Daily News’ “Friday Night Flashback” series, in which we look back at last season for Miami County’s teams before the start of the season.
Due to a number of factors — lack of experience and a brutal schedule being chief amongst them — Troy’s season looked like it would be a struggle from the outset. Unfortunately for the Trojans, that proved to be the case. Troy went 1-9 last season, its worst finish since an 0-10 finish in 1982. Since Troy expanded its schedule to nine games in 1917, it was only the sixth time in Troy history a Trojan team won one or no games in a season.
Adding insult to injury was the fact that — per a new rule instituted by the Ohio High School Athletic Association prior to last season — Troy faced a running clock in five lopsided contests. Again, in fairness, Troy faced four playoff teams last season, including one that made it all the way to the Division I state title game.
Troy would face that new role in the season opener against Chaminade Julienne, as the Eagles jumped out to a 35-0 lead and led 42-7 at halftime. A running clock in the second half prevented either team from scoring in the second half. One of the lone highlights for the Trojans was a 70-yard touchdown pass from Billy Smith to Josh Williams, one of the top 10 longest scoring passes in school history.
Things would appear to get better in Week 2 against Cincinnati Northwest, a Division II playoff qualifier. Troy trailed just 8-0 at halftime and 11-0 until late in the fourth quarter, when Northwest was able to tack on a pair of late touchdowns in the game’s final three minutes.
It would get no easier in Week 3, as Troy hosted Miamisburg, a Division I playoff participant. The Vikings raced out to a 38-0 halftime lead, meaning another running clock in the second half. Even with the running clock, however, Troy did get touchdown runs out of Elijah Pearson and Josh Browder.
In Week 4, Troy faced off against Wayne, the Division I state runner-up and a team loaded with future Division I college football players. With Troy unable to match up athletically, Wayne led 48-0 at halftime and Troy faced a running clock for the third time in four weeks. Troy finished the game with just two first downs — one courtesy of a Wayne penalty — and 25 yards in total offense.
Despite that adversity the first month of the season, however, the Trojans did not quit and were within striking distance of victories the next two weeks. Against Xenia, Troy was driving for a potential game-tying touchdown in the game’s final second before a drive fizzled in the Bucs’ redzone. Troy would end up losing 21-14, getting touchdowns runs from Brandon Lee and quarterback Hayden Kotwica.
The following week at Greenville, Troy jumped out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a 57-yard pass from Kotwica to Tristan Wright and a Zach Thompson field goal. Troy could not hold the lead, however, as the Green Wave scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to pull ahead and then held on for the win.
Troy continued to show its resolve the next week against Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division power Trotwood-Madison, a Division III state semifinalist. In a game many expected to be yet another blowout, Troy held the Rams to a 0-0 halftime tie and trailed just 6-0 in the fourth quarter before the Rams scored three more touchdowns in the final quarter to pull out the win.
Finally, in Week 8, Troy got the win it had been looking for all season with a complete effort against Sidney. Kotwica threw a pair of touchdown passes — one a 17-yard dart to Williams and the other an 85-yard pass to Smith — the fifth-longest in school history — and Lee and Sheldon Lucas both added touchdown runs. In a season of dark clouds, it was a ray of sunshine for the Trojans.
It didn’t last long, however, as the very next week Troy fell flat in a 38-7 loss to Butler. For the fourth time, Troy faced a running clock in the second half. Kotwica had the lone score for the Trojans on a 2-yard run.
The Trojans closed the season on the road against rival Piqua in the 130th meeting between the two schools. Troy got a touchdown run by Kotwica and a field goal from Thompson, but other than that it was all Piqua as, for the final 2:38 of the game, Troy faced its fifth running clock of the season. With the win, Piqua evened the all-time series between the two schools at 62-62-6.
During the offseason, Fort Loramie’s Matt Burgbacher was named the team’s new head coach.
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong