Friday, October 20, 2006

Getting My Game Face On

Game on.

I'm making a vow to myself right now: this is the last time I will ever come to work on the day of a Troy-Piqua game. I'm having a very hard time maintaining even a semblance of focus on my work (clearly evidenced by the fact that I'm writing this instead of, you know, working), so there's really not even any point to my being here. I'm leaving at noon as it is, and it's going to be hard to keep myself from bouncing off the walls even for that long.

Believe it or not, this game used to be even more important to me than it is now. When I was still in high school, it used to feel like a life-and-death situation. If the Trojans lost, I would agonize over it for days, and it would make me almost literally sick to my stomach. And I didn't even play. Fortunately, for me and for those around me, I've gained a sense of perspective since then. I still want Troy to win more than I want things like water or air, but if they don't, I'm able to put it behind me a lot more easily. It's just a game, after all. (Yeah, right.)

I'm glad I'm off work early today, unlike last year's debacle, so I'll have a chance to drive through downtown Troy and sample the gameday atmosphere before actually heading into Piqua for the game. Back in my day, there would be red and gray ribbons tied to everything that was anchored to the ground all over town, and all the storefronts would be painted in those same colors with messages urging the team to victory. I hope it's still that way.

I'll leave you with this column, written by Troy Daily News executive editor (and 1992 graduate of THS) David Fong, which appeared in yesterday's TDN. It's a fun read for anyone with any familiarity with the Troy-Piqua rivalry:

Recently I was sitting at lunch when my college roommate Greg — who was woefully unaware of Southwest Ohio football blood feuds — asked me, “Fong, what’s the Troy-Piqua rivalry all about anyway?”

And after I thought about it for roughly half a second, I looked at him and said the following:

“Greg, it’s about more than just a football game. It’s about Gordon Bell and The Victory Bell. It’s about Troy Memorial lighting up the dark and it’s about guys like Chad Dillow providing a spark. It’s about blood drives and long drives and losses that give you hives.

“It’s about the Brewers, the Karns and all the other brothers-in-arms. It’s about Andy Marker following in his dad’s footsteps and Troy’s offense on Piqua’s doorstep. It’s about red and gray vs. blue and red and miss The Game? I’d rather be dead.

“It’s about Mohawks and momentum and mo’ games than any other rivalry in the state. It’s about the wing-T, Joe Williams’ safety and Nick Trostel knocking one through in OT. It’s about finding a parking space at old Wertz and giving until it hurts.

“It’s about knowing how to pronounce Bougher, Buecker and Rohrbach and about 2005 being the greatest game you ever saw. It’s about the way winning the game makes you feel so proud, Alexander Stadium getting so loud and lining up the night before to beat the crowd.

“It’s about Tommy Myers throwing the bomb and John Apple being The Bomb. It’s future NFL stars, future All-Americans and guys who will never, ever play again. It’s about future stars, Trojan stars and never-weres.

“It’s about Piqua winning in the playoffs, the brothers Rohlfs and the ginormous ticket sale payoffs. It’s about the scores, the sores and tears falling on locker room floors. It’s about Jason Manson blocking a kick, Todd Blair making a stick and Mark Adams coming down with a pick.”

“It’s about Aaron Johnson calling the curl-fade and Pete Johnson going 102 yards the other way. It’s about film sessions, Brett Sessions and Lewe Sessions. It’s about Dave Gallagher and Dave Levorchick. It’s about cool autumn nights and the 1989 game ending in a fight.

“It’s about Brandon Saine and playing through the pain. It’s about blitzes and Blizman. It’s about the greatest moment of your young life, old folks feeling the strife and tension you couldn’t possibly cut with a knife. It’s about 2003 getting delayed by lightning and a 1971 Troy team that was ever-so frightening.

“It’s about Craig Clemons and Craig Donaldson. It’s about that long Delwiche run and Kevin Johns back in the ’gun. It’s about Nolan and Nees and no one better ever leave early because you just never know.”

Finally, after all that, Greg looked up from his turkey tetrazzini and said, “OK, so is that what Troy-Piqua is all about?”

“And Greg, you know what else? Will I ever miss a game? Never. Because it’s about Bob Ferguson — always and forever.”


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