This is the first regular-season game I've attended at Dayton's Welcome Stadium. Each time I've been there previously has been for a playoff game, so I'm used to a pretty overstimulated environment - early-arriving fans, packed stands, high emotion. That made the complete lack of atmosphere at this game a little jarring, especially since this was supposed to be a huge high school football "event." The crowd on both sides was small, the Troy band didn't come, CJ's band was very small and barely played, and there wasn't even a halftime show. Heck, I don't even think they printed up any programs. If they did, I never saw 'em. Also, they didn't turn on the lights until the game was almost over, and even then it was only one standard. I understand trying to save a few bucks in a tough economy, but it was plenty dark enough for lights for most of the fourth quarter at least. Seems a little bush league to me.
This is also the first high school game I've attended that was televised on anything more than an extremely local basis. It simply reinforced my belief that high school sports really shouldn't be televised. It slowed the game down so much. I'm all for being at the game for as long as possible, but I prefer that it's due to the action on the field rather than interminable timeouts and play stoppages.
But hey, high school football is back for real, and in view of that, it's hard to complain. Unfortunately, the Trojans couldn't get a win to open the season. They're young, and although they have some talent, their inexperience showed tonight. They made some good plays, but they couldn't string enough of them together to mount a serious threat against a solid CJ team that is Division III in name only - they've got plenty of size and speed. The Trojans were able to keep it close by stepping up when it counted on defense. CJ's only touchdown came on a trick play, a double pass that the Trojans were almost able to stuff in the backfield. Outside of that drive, the Eagles were able to rack up some yards, but the Trojans made some nice plays (including a beautiful interception by Kyle Terando in the third quarter) and kept them from getting into the endzone again.
The offense, on the other hand, couldn't really get anything going. The Trojans are returning this year to the run-heavy Wing-T that has served them so well in the past. However, that offense is predicated as much on misdirection as it is on anything else, and in this game it seemed like they plays were taking too long to develop. This led to a whole bunch of tackles for loss or short gain. The most success they had was with a long drive in the third quarter which was made up mostly of quick hitters attacking the center of the line. That seemed to wear down CJ's defense, but Troy just couldn't keep it up. They got down into the redzone, then, on third down, ran a QB bootleg around the right side. I don't know if it was a designed run or if QB Greg Yahle couldn't find a receiver and decided to run on his own, but either way, it didn't work. He fumbled, and although the Trojans recovered, the lost yardage resulted in a failed field goal attempt. That was the only time Troy seriously threatened to dent the scoreboard. When CJ drove down after that and scored a field goal of their own, the game was pretty much over.
Still, this was only game one, and it was against some decent competition. I did see some pretty good things, and I expect the Trojans to build on this and put some good games together this season. They'll get their chance when they open up at home next week with an actual Friday game against the Xenia Buccaneers.
Oh yeah, and that reminds me - non-Friday games are for the birds. I've been going to high school football games for a really long time now, and this is the first one that wasn't on a Friday or, at worst, a Saturday. Needless to say, my mind is now convinced that I have tomorrow off; unfortunately, I have to work in the morning. Ugh.