By David Fong
TROY — Say this much for the Troy football team — it will enter the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division portion of its schedule battle-tested.
From come-from-behind victories, to giving away large leads to blowout losses to a miracle comeback attempt that fell just short, the Trojans have seen just about everything through the first half of the season.
Troy is 1-4 entering GWOC North play this week — but certainly doesn’t seem like a 1-4 team. The Trojans are a handful of plays away from being 3-2 — a 28-26 loss to Cincinnati Northwest and a 45-42 loss to Xenia this past Friday kept them from doing that — but things just haven’t gone the Trojans’ way.
Of course, a chance to compete for a GWOC North crown would erase all of the frustration from the first half of the season. The Trojans will attempt to take the first step this Friday when they host Greenville.
First, though, a look back at last Friday’s heartbreaking 45-42 loss to Xenia:
Offensive Player of the Game
This one is a no-brainer, really. Junior quarterback Hayden Kotwica completed 24 of 42 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns. His five touchdown tosses — two each to Zion Taylor and Marc Scordia, along with one to Zach Boyer — tied a school single-game record set by Trojan legend Tom Myers (who did it four times) in 1959 and 1960.
Kotwica’s 321 passing yards also were just 50 short of the school record, also set by Myers in 1960. For the season, Kotwica has thrown for more than 1,100 yards — putting him on track to break Myers’ school single-season record of 2,009 yards.
Defensive Player of the Game
Junior outside linebacker Will Brumfield turned in a monster game against the Buccaneers, finishing with 14 tackles.
Brumfield — who also plays h-back on offense and is on all of Troy’s special teams units — remains the team’s unquestioned leader on defense.
Play of the Game
Up 45-35 with a little more than six minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Xenia was simply trying to running out the clock deep in its own territory — or, given the fact the Buccaneers rarely run the ball, instead choosing to throw the ball about 80 percent of the time, “pass out the clock” would probably be more accurate.
That would nearly prove to be a fatal choice, as Trojan defensive back Drake McDonagh picked off a pass from Xenia quarterback Danny Naylor and returned it 8 yards for a touchdown, cutting Xenia’s lead to 45-42.
Troy would get the ball back again with two minutes to play and nearly drove the length of the field for the game-winning score.
What This Means
Troy finishes the first half of the season 1-4 — certainly not what the Trojans envisioned when the season started, but Troy coach Matt Burgbacher remains confident in his teams.
“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves the first half of the season,” he said. “We are only going to get stronger from this. I truly believe our best football is still ahead of us.”
What Happens Next
As previously stated, the Trojans will enter GWOC North play having seen a little bit of everything this season. That experience could prove valuable — and will be something the Trojans may need to lean on the final five games, Burgbacher said.
“The North is as good, top to bottom, as it has been in years,” he said. “There are no easy games in the North this year. We’ve got to be ready to play every single week.”
Troy will be looking to claim its first league title since 2000.
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong