There are times, in life as well as in sports, when you run into a buzzsaw. The true measure of success in such situations is not in victory or defeat, but rather in how one comports oneself in the face of sheer adversity.
It was clear, if not from game previews throughout the week than certainly from the pregame warmups, that Troy was outmatched in this game. Pickerington had a distinct advantage over the visiting Trojans, both in terms of numbers and in terms of size. While that doesn't always translate on the field of play, in this case it was clear early on in the game that it did. The Tigers covered the field with gifted athletes on both sides of the ball. But while some teams would have quailed in such a situation, the Trojans refused to yield. Yes, Pickerington won the game, but they had to fight for everything they got.
Pickerington's defense proved too strong for Troy's run game to attack up the middle, and too fast for them to attack on the edges. So they turned to the passing game - not their strong point, generally speaking, but something they've used more this year than in years past. They were able to find some success with it, albeit not consistently enough to put points on the board. On defense is where the Trojans truly excelled. While Pickerington may have boasted better athletes, the Troy D swarmed to the ball and repeatedly stuffed Tiger ballcarriers for little or no gain. It really was something special to behold. And the special teams did their part as well, with Troy's lone score coming off a return after a blocked punt. That was too late in the game to truly make a difference, but early enough to make the last few minutes interesting.
So while the Trojans went down to defeat, ending the season at 8-3, I was really proud of them. This game was a perfect example of why I love sports, especially high school sports. The outcome of the game is often only part of the story.
Of course, I noted earlier that the Trojans made Pickerington fight for everything they got in this game. Unforutunately, it seemed like some of the Tiger players may have taken that a little too literally, as one of them was ejected after a personal foul in the fourth quarter. That ejection actually should have been the second (unless the perpetrator was the same each time; I was a little too irate at the time to take note of numbers) since, earlier in the game, a Tiger defender threw a roundhouse at a Trojan receiver's head after a catch. I think they were probably frustrated after winning most of their games by 40+ this season and finally coming up against an opponent that kept after them from beginning to end.
One other item of note: Trojan quarterback Cody May threw for 122 yards in this game, becoming just the third quarterback to eclipse 1,000 passing yards in a season since Coach Nolan took over the program in 1984. May, a junior, will be back next season, and he'll be bringing a ton of talent back with him. So - I'm calling it a year in advance - don't be surprised to see Troy back in the thick of the Region 3 playoff chase again next year.