By David Fong
TROY — Twenty-five years ago in Tokyo, Japan, Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports. In doing so, the Columbus-area boxer stripped away Tyson’s aura of invincibility, rendering Tyson a shell of his former self as a fighter.
What history often fails to remember, however, is that in his very next fight, Douglas was knocked out by Evander Holyfield in just three rounds. Following his lone title defense, Douglas would not fight again for six years and would never again come anywhere close to the top of the boxing world.
All of which rings pretty close to home for the Troy football team this week.
Fresh of one of the greatest upsets in school history — a 21-20 defeat of Trotwood that ended the Rams’ 34-game Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division winning streak — the Trojans (2-5, 1-1 in the GWOC North) will be looking to prove that monumental win was not a fluke as they travel to Sidney (4-3, 0-2).
“Like the previous six games, we want to learn from the Trotwood game and move on,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “We want to know, ‘Why did Friday night happen?’ All the things we did right against Trotwood, we want to do again against Sidney. All the things we did wrong against Trotwood, we want to make sure we don’t do again.
“The win over Trotwood was a great win for the program. I don’t want to say we made history, but we did do something that hadn’t happened in a long time. We want the kids to enjoy that, but we also don’t want to come right out the next week and not play well. We don’t want people to say it was just a fluke. Sidney is a very good football team — we can’t just go in there and expect to win because we beat Trotwood. We have to go in there and play well.”
Sidney’s offense is led by dual-threat freshman quarterback Andre Gordon, who has completed 64 of 96 passes for 903 yards with 7 touchdowns and five interceptions, while also carrying the ball 103 times for 648 yards and nine touchdowns. His numbers are all the more impressive considering he played only sparingly in Sidney’s first two games of the season before taking over full control of the offense in Week 3.
“He’s an amazing athlete,” Burgbacher said of Gordon. “He can do it all for them — and he’s only a freshman, so we’ll be seeing him for the next few years.”
Gordon has numerous targets to throw to, his favorite of which is Darryl McNeal, who has 39 catches for 376 yards and three touchdowns. Allec Gordan has 18 catches for 312 yards and three touchdowns and Damien Duff has 18 catches for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
Gordon is the team’s leading rusher, but running back Isaiah Bowser isn’t far behind with 103 carries for 583 yards and nine touchdowns.
“They will spread you out,” Burgbacher said. “They are a true spread team. A lot of stuff they do, watching the film, is similar to what we do. They’ve got a nice running back in the Bowser kid and the McNeal kid seems like he’s been there forever. He’s been making plays for them for a number of years now.”
Defensively, the Yellowjackets run a 3-3 stack, employing five defensive backs in an effort to stop spread offenses.
“They are solid on defense,” Burgbacher said. “They do a nice job. They will blitz quite a bit. I’ll tell you what, Coach (Adam) Doenges has really done a nice job turning that program around. They had a couple of years there where they were 0-10, but they’ve really come a long way since then. He’s gotten the kids to buy into their program.”
Which, in essence, is the same thing Troy’s first-year coach is trying to do with his program.
“We’ve had to battle through a lot of negative adversity this season,” Burgbacher said. “Now we’ve got to battle through some positive adversity. We need to come out and play well against a very good Sidney team. We can’t afford to come out and lay an egg after beating Trotwood.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong