Friday, September 09, 2011

Troy 35 Fairborn 11

There are some things I like about away games more than I do home games. One of them, in some respects, is the crowd. Don't get me wrong; I love a rowdy and partisan home crowd at Troy Memorial Stadium. But going to home games is easy, and for a lot of people, it's more about the social setting than it is about the game. Sitting in the stands at a home game, you'll overhear any number of conversations, very few of which are about the game or the team. But it's not like that at away games, for the most part. Travel weeds out a lot of the casual fans, allowing the bleachers to fill with parents and family, long-timers, and die-hards. On the way to my seat tonight in Fairborn, I heard people talking about last week's game, the number of kids on the team, the size of the linemen, and Coach Nolan's evolving offensive philosophies.

One thing I don't especially like to hear, though, no matter where the game is being played, is talk of the game being a blowout before it has even started. Even when it seems likely, as it did for Troy over Fairborn, hearing people give voice to it always makes me nervous.

It seemed as though my fears were justified well into this game. The Skyhawks were pesky, and the Trojans seemed to be having a hard time getting anything together, especially along their makeshift offensive line that was wracked with injuries. When Fairborn scored their first touchdown midway through the third quarter and made the two-point conversion, the Trojans were ahead just 14-11, and the crowd was getting restless.

Luckily, it was at that point that something finally seemed to click for the Trojans. The defense tightened up, not allowing another Skyhawk first down for the remainder of the game, and the offense got moving both through the air and on the ground, scoring three more times to pull away and put the game out of reach.

Still, I have to admit to being pretty impressed with Fairborn's quarterback, Kendrick Williams. He puts the ball in the air quite a bit (31 attempts in this game), and yet the interception he threw in the fourth quarter was just his first of the season. While he does make a number of short, planned throws, he also has some freedom to run around, get creative, and take shots downfield. And while I wouldn't exactly call him a runner, he was very elusive, slipping away from defenders and making things happen.

On the Trojan side, I was also impressed with quarterback Cody May. I thought the passing game looked mostly out of sorts last week against Middletown, and while it was that way at times this week against Fairborn, he really did a nice job of spreading the ball around and making some big plays. He also had a couple of big runs when no receivers were open. I was also impressed with halfback Miles Hibbler running the ball. The other backs had some ups and downs, but Hibbler coming into the backfield really seemed to spark the Trojans.

And since last week I noted some things that could make the home game experience a little better (in my opinion), tonight I'll note something about away games: where the hell was the Trojan band? Look, I know the band has competitions and all that, but not on Friday nights. And I'm not pretending to know the story, so I don't know if this is a band decision, an administrative decision, or what. They just need to be at the games with the team.

Anyway, it was good to see the Trojans get back on the winning track after the tough loss last week. Next week they'll return to Troy Memorial Stadium to take on the Springboro Panthers (0-3), a team the Trojans shut 21-0 on their turf last year. They were supposed to be pretty good this year, so no doubt they'll be coming into the game a little salty and looking to avoid an 0-4 start.

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