This game is a perfect example of one of the reasons why I love sports, particularly high school sports, so much, and why a struggling young team can be just as compelling to watch as a powerhouse team that blows past opponents with ease. After looking pretty rough in two losses to open the season, the Trojans were finally able to get their legs under them and put things together en route to their first victory of 2013.
Troy really impressed me tonight, on a couple of levels. For one, they cut way back on the mistakes and sloppy play that plagued them against CJ and Shawnee. Secondly, when Xenia came out of halftime with a vengeance to take a 16-14 lead, after being down 14-6 at the half, it would have been really easy for the Trojans to fold up their tents and submit to the onslaught. Instead they got themselves together, answered with a score to take the lead back, and retook control of the game.
Which isn't to say that they played a perfect game by any means. They played a little out of control on defense at times, leading to overpursuit and missed tackles. They also had a turnover and some costly penalties at critical times, which kept them from putting the game away and kept the outcome in doubt until the final gun sounded. And give a lot of credit for that to Xenia, too. The Buccaneers have some crazy good athletes--their backs and receivers had good speed and made some great moves. That really benefited their offense.
The Trojans have got some athletes too, though, and on this night the story of the game was the Miles Hibbler show. Hibbler, Troy's senior tailback, lived up to the hype that's been following him throughout his career at Troy and the promise he showed in the final scrimmage before the season started. Freed from his responsibilities on defense, the Trojans instead decided to run their offense through him. They fed him the ball and focused on opening holes for him, and he responded with well over 200 yards rushing and four TDs. He did a great job of finding lanes, slipping through cracks, and making guys miss, and anytime he gets to the edge or into the open field...well, forget about it. You're just not going to catch him.
It was great to see such a young team take some big steps and get rewarded with a win. They'll look to keep it rolling when they go on the road again next week to take on the Springfield Wildcats (0-3). They'll be looking to avenge last year's 27-21 loss, which turned out to be Springfield's only win on the year.