By David Fong
TROY — Going into the final two weeks of the season, Troy football coach Matt Burgbacher knows what his team is playing for — and it’s not a winning record, a trip to the playoffs, a division title or any of the other things the Trojans dreamed of before the season started.
“We are playing for pride now — and we know that,” Burgbacher said of Troy (2-6, 1-2 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division), which hosts Butler (6-2, 3-0 in the GWOC North) Friday at Troy Memorial Stadium. “We want to send our seniors out the right way. This group of seniors has done everything we’ve asked them to do — they deserve to go out the right way.
“I think you get into coaching for four reasons: to build relationships with kids, because you love football, you love to compete and you want to build memories. That’s what we want to do now — we want the kids on this team to build some memories these last two weeks that are going to be with them for the rest of their lives.”
One week after falling flat in a 52-28 loss to Sidney, it won’t be easy for the Trojans with the team sitting atop the GWOC North standings coming to town.
The Aviator offense is led by senior quarterback Chandler Craine, a three-year starter who has thrown for at least 1,000 yards every season he’s been the starter. This year, he’s completed 117 of 213 passes for 1,418 yards, to go along with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Craine’s favorite target is Treylann Sanders, who has 17 catches for 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season. Noah Ballard has 22 catches for 293 yards and one touchdown and Aaron Fields has 18 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
Butler also has a pair of capable running backs in Nic Martin, who has 114 carries for 582 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Logan Flatt, who had 94 carries for 487 yards eight touchdowns.
“Chandler Craine is a solid quarterback,” Burgbacher said. “When you watch film on him, he’s great at directing their offense. He’s been there for a number of years, so he knows the offense inside and out. You can see by the way he handles himself that he’s a great leader. Craine wants to hit the big one on you — they want to go deep whenever they can.
“They’ve also got two big, physical running backs in Martin and Flatt and some nice receivers on the outside. But I’ll tell you what they also have — they have a typical Vandalia-Butler offensive line. They are big, they are quick and they can move people. They are impressive. Butler is a zone and power team.”
Defensively, the Aviators run a “50” scheme similar to the one Troy runs.
“Their front seven is very good,” Burgbacher said. “They’ve got a noseguard who likes to penetrate and get up the field. They’ve got two nice defensive tackles. Their two defensive ends do a great job keeping things inside and letting their their two inside linebackers — Martin and (Matt) Grossman — to make plays. They are a fundamentally sound defense. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us.”
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong