By David Fong
TROY — As the 2015 high school football season opens later this week, Matt Burgbacher feels like a little kid waiting on Christmas.
While most other coaches around the state will have to wait until Christmas Day to open their presents, however, the first-year Troy football coach will experience the equivalent of opening his on Christmas Eve.
Burgbacher and the Trojans will open the season at 7 p.m. Thursday against Chaminade Julienne at Wayne High School — a day earlier than most schools, who will open the next day with a more traditional Friday night start.
“I’m excited and the kids are excited — but if you aren’t excited this time of year, you probably need to go to the hospital and get yourself checked out. Everyone is excited this time of year. And we get to open a day earlier than most. We’ve known for awhile now that our first game was going to be on a Thursday, and I kind of like it.
“It puts the spotlight on us a little. College football hasn’t started yet. The NFL hasn’t started yet. Very few other high school teams will be playing Thursday night. I think a lot of people in (Greater Western Ohio Conference) Country are anxious to see what Troy is all about. I think a lot of media are going to want to see. I know a lot of fans are going to want to see what we are about this year. I think it’s great for the kids and great for the community that we get to be in a spotlight game.”
Opening a day early has forced Burgbacher and his staff to change how they go about preparing for the game, but he’s OK with that.
“Preparation-wise, it has changed what we’ve done,” he said. “There’s more of a sense of urgency, I think. But the good thing is, they’ve had one less to prepare, as well, so we’re both even from that standpoint.”
Burgbacher said there’s plenty to prepare for against Chaminade Julienne, a team that blitzed the Trojans 42-7 in the season opener a year ago. While CJ lost many of its key players from a year ago — several players transferred to other schools during the offseason, including star quarterback Jacob Harrison, who will play at Centerville this year — Burgbacher still sees a stiff challenge.
“They did lose some players — first they lost the seniors that graduated, then they did have some kids who transferred to other schools — but this is still a very good football team,” he said. “When I look at this team, it makes me wonder how good they must have been last year, to lose the players they did and still have this much talent coming back. This is a darn good football team and I expect them to win a lot of games this year.”
Burgbacher said he’s impressed with what he sees on both sides of the ball when he looks at CJ.
“Offensively, they lost the Harrison kid, but they’ve got a sophomore quarterback who can throw the ball and make plays with his feet,” he said. “He’s a great scrambler and can make things happen when the play starts to break down. He’s very elusive. They’ve got a great tight end and two big receivers they can throw the ball to.
“Defensively, they aren’t huge up front, but they are quick. They play a base 3-4 defense, which is the same defense we play, so we’ve kind of got an idea of some of the blitzes they might run and some of the other things they will do. They are a good, disciplined defense.”
Burgbacher said his team is anxious to start trying to wash the taste of last year’s 1-9 finish.
“We’re ready to go,” he said. “The kids are excited. We are ready to go out there and play.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong