Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Rivalry

I won't completely rule it out, but I find it highly unlikely that I will be posting tomorrow (that's why I did my football picks this morning). I'm taking the day off work (as I do each year) for the annual Troy vs. Piqua football game.

This will be the 120th time the two teams have met, making it the most-played rivalry in the state of Ohio. The series stands at 56-57-6 in favor of Piqua, who has won the past three matchups. Troy goes into the game this year looking to even the record.

This will be the fourteenth consecutive Troy-Piqua game that I've attended. Troy is 6-7 in the games I've seen so far. The streak began in 1992, my sophomore year at Troy High School, with a 22-7 win. Piqua avenged that loss later the same year, beating Troy 20-7 and ending our season in the state playoffs. A couple of other games stand out in my mind. In 1993 (my junior year) the clock went to zeroes with Troy ahead, but on the last play Troy had been flagged for a facemask penalty. The game can't end on a defensive penalty, so Piqua got one more play. They managed to score, and won the game. That game, which featured an emotional reversal that has probably not been matched in my life, is now known as the "phantom facemask" game, as no one since (not even Piqua fans) has said they actually saw the penalty. The other game that sticks out to me is the 1996 game. I was a sophomore in college at the time, and brought my roommate (an alumnus of Canton McKinley high school, which is involved in another prominent Ohio high school football rivalry) to the game. The Trojans absolutely rolled Piqua that night, winning 48-0.

Tomorrow night's game will likely be a season-maker for the winning team. Piqua comes in at 1-4 with a young team that will be looking for a win to hang their hats on. The Trojans are 3-2 and have looked dominant the past two weeks (albeit against questionable competition) after two weeks of looking pretty bad. It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out. I believe the Trojans will have a distinctive size advantage over their rivals to the north, and that could be a big factor. Piqua has no returning starters from last year on offense, and Troy's defense has been pretty good all season long (with the exception of the Centerville game). As long as they don't get back to the old habit of killing themselves with penalties and turnovers, I think the Trojans end Piqua's winning streak and even the score.

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