There are times--quite a few of them--when I wish I had access to some sort of wormhole or device that would let me go back in time and change whatever life decisions I would need to in order to be coaching high school football today. And then there are nights like this, when I watch my beloved Troy Trojans lose in a heartbreaking and controversial fashion, and then moments later I see Coach Burgbacher on the field being interviewed about the game, and I know he has to put on a positive face and say all the right things. After a game like this, I don't know if I could do it. Not five minutes after the final whistle, at least.
The controversy (those on the Troy side of the field would call it that, at least) came on two separate plays on the game's final drive. When the Trojans kicked a field goal to take a 17-14 lead with around two minutes left in the game, Miamisburg was out of timeouts. They needed big plays, and they needed them fast. They were making the plays they needed, but the clock kept rolling, and it looked like the Troy defense--stalwart all night--was going to hold them one last time. Then, on a tackle near midfield, a Troy defender was flagged for an illegal hit. Now, it looked like a perfectly fine hit to me, but it happened on the opposite side of the field, so it's totally possible that I didn't see it clearly. However, I will say that the game was a little chippy all night, with at least two occasions of Trojans being tackled by the head and their helmets being torn off without penalties being called. If you're going to let plays like that go, then I'd say that inside of a minute left in a tight game is not the time to start calling personal fouls. Then, on a play shortly thereafter (it may have been the next one), the Viking QB threw a pass toward the sideline, but Troy's defense managed the drag the defender down in bounds with fifteen seconds left. The official signaled for the clock to keep running, but then, inexplicably, signaled for it to stop. By the time another official signaled that it should indeed be running, Miamisburg's offense was already back at the line of scrimmage, where they clocked the ball to set themselves up for their scoring pass.
Now, credit to the Vikings, because their kids came up big and made the plays when they needed them. Maybe they still get into the endzone without those two plays going the way they did. Who knows? What I do know is that this was a hell of a high school football game for 47 minutes, but that last minute left a sour taste in my mouth as I left the stadium.
Now! Having made the long(ish) drive back to Columbus and using that time to mull over the entirety of the game, there were, overall, more positives than negatives. Miamisburg is a really good team. They've blown Troy out the past couple of seasons, and this year the Trojans were right there with them. The Vikings are known primarily for their offensive line, which has one member committed to Ohio State and considered the best in the nation, and another to the University of Cincinnati. And yet Troy's D really did a nice job against them. And last but not least, Troy's home stands were as full as I've seen them in a long, long time. It was fun to be part of a big home crowd again.
And really, it's hard to be disappointed for long. At the halfway point of the seasons, the Trojans find themselves at 4-1, after finishing last year 2-8. It's already been a fun year, and it's only half over (or maybe less--stay tuned). Now it's time for conference play, and it starts off with what should be a pretty cool matchup. The Tippecanoe Red Devils, also 4-1, invade Troy Memorial Stadium next Friday, the first time the two teams have played since 1985, which was before even I was paying attention (I was in third grade). Tipp is always solid, and I'm glad the Trojans have made it back to that point as well. I'm looking forward to this one.