By David Fong
TROY — After going 1-9 last season, the Troy football team is well-versed in dealing with adversity.
Following a thrilling 42-31 victory over Chaminade Julienne last week, however, the world is about to find out how well the Trojans deal with success.
In coach Matt Burgbacher’s mind, the former can be just as difficult as the latter.
“We couldn’t be happier with the way we earned our victory over CJ,” Burgbacher said. “And we did earn that victory — CJ didn’t give it to us. We responded in a positive way to everything CJ threw at us. But now the battle is, the test is, how do we handle that success. We’ve dealt with our share of adversity, but handling success isn’t something our kids have had to do a whole lot of here recently.
“When we watched the film, we saw a lot of good things — but we also saw a lot of things we still need to improve on. That’s something that we as coaches are definitely going to hammering home this week — we are definitely better than we were, but are nowhere near where we want to be. We need to put that victory behind us and stay humble.”
This week’s opponent, Cincinnati Northwest, is capable of bringing the Trojans back down to Earth in a hurry if the Trojans show up still flying high from last week’s victory. Troy will play host to Northwest at 7 p.m. Friday in its home opener. The Trojan Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be honored before the game.
The Knights have been to the playoffs each of the last two seasons, blanked Troy 23-0 last season and opened this season with a 49-15 victory over Cincinnati Western Hills.
“They’re good,” Burgbacher said of Northwest. “They are a fundamentally sound football team. They lost a lot of players from last year to graduation, but they’ve had kids step up to replace those guys. Their coach has done a good job building them into an established program. They are where we want to be. We want to get to the point where when we lose kids to graduation, we have kids ready to step up from the junior varsity and perform at a high level right away.”
When Burgbacher looks at Northwest’s offense, he sees a team loaded with athletes.
“They have a run-first mentality, but they will throw the ball and they definitely have weapons on the outside,” he said. “They’ve got a pretty nice tailback — he’s about 5-foot-9, 220 pounds. He runs the ball hard.”
Defensively, Burgbacher sees a team that runs quickly to the ball. For Troy to be successful again on offense, he said, he wants to continue to run at the fast-paced tempo the Trojans used against Chaminade.
“We want to play as fast as we can,” he said. “When the referee blows the whistle, we want to be ready to snap the ball. We want to play with a style that really puts pressure on the defense. We were able to do that against CJ. Several times they had to call a defensive timeout. Quite a few times we caught them out of position because they didn’t have the time to make adjustments to what we were doing.”
All that being said, though, Burgbacher thinks his team’s mental acuity will go just as far this week as its physical prowess.
“This is a big game for us,” he said. “It’s our first home game. It’s hall of fame night. I think people are going to be excited after our first win. There will very likely be a few hundred more people in the stands Friday night. We’ve got to be ready to handle all of that.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong