First off, the stadium at West Carrollton Junior High isn't really fit to host a high school football game, at least not for the visiting team and their fans. The stands are built from old, warped wood with a vaguely dangerous feel, and the upper half is difficult to reach due to being separated, for some reason, by a rail that's broken only at the ends and in the middle. Also, I'm pretty sure the Trojans were using a U-Haul truck as their locker room. I realize CJ doesn't have a stadium of their own, but it seems like there must have been better alternatives. Alas, perhaps not.
On the other hand, high school football is back, and that's all that really mattered on this night. The Trojans kicked off to start the season, but still managed to get on the board early. Two early CJ fumbles deep in their own territory led to a 10-0 Troy lead before the first quarter was halfway over. Defense really set the tone in the first half, as the Trojans didn't score again until recovering a blocked punt in the endzone close to the end of the half.
After the half, Troy's young offensive line started to find its way and open some holes for the running game. The first two drives of the third quarter went 69 and 72 yards, respectively, both ending in TDs. That took care of the scoring, as Troy started working in some reserve players in the fourth quarter.
Really, the story of the night was Troy's defense, which was incredibly impressive. Aside from the two early fumble recoveries, they also had two interceptions in the game, and were getting their hands on passes all night. I thought they did a great job holding up CJ's sizable ballcarriers and then swarming, trying to strip the ball or, at the very least, bring them down for a minimal gain. They also got a lot of pressure on CJ's quarterback and put some nice hits on him. It was just an all-around great performance, especially for the first game of the season.
One of the best things I saw on the night was the quarterback wristbands being worn by Troy's offensive skill players. In seasons past, the quarterback ran to the sideline after each play to get the next one, which resulted in its fair share of delay penalties. Now the coaches can signal the plays in, which keeps the pace quicker. For a run-oriented team like Troy, that can make a real difference. I also liked the play of Zach Thompson, Troy's freshman kicker. The kid seems to have a good leg on him, which can be a serious weapon in the high school game.
Despite the shutout, I don't think CJ is a bad team at all, particularly on defense. They've got some size and speed, so they should be okay as the season goes on.
Next week, the Trojans return home to open Troy Memorial Stadium for the season, taking on the formidable Middletown Middies. Middletown handled Troy last year 38-7, in a game marred by four lost fumbles by the Trojans. It'll be interesting to see how the two teams match up this year.