Alas. All good things must come to an end, and this season of Troy football was more than good; it was phenomenal.
Just like the first time these two teams met up this season, this was a great high school football game between two really good teams. It was a shame (from my side of the field, at least) that Troy came up short both times, but it doesn't change the fact that both games were a pleasure to watch.
I won't go so far as to say this was a game that Troy should have won, but it was one they could have won. Both teams made some mistakes. If the Trojans could have cut theirs back, or taken better advantage of the ones the Vikings made, the outcome may have been different. That last is what the game came down to, more or less. With the score tied at 21 more than halfway through the fourth quarter, Troy recovered a Miamisburg fumble in their own territory and took it down to the 5 yard line. With four shots to make those five yards, Troy couldn't break through the Vikings' tough defense and get the score.
Really, if I had to boil the story of the game down to one element, it would be Miamisburg's defense. They were really tough tonight. The first time these two teams played, Troy gained over 400 yards of offense, evenly split between rushing and passing. Tonight, they could muster only 181 yards, just 82 of them on the ground. As good as he's been all year, tailback Josh Browder just couldn't find a whole lot of room to work tonight.
Of course, I can't say that without also giving major props to Troy's defense, which put in another incredible effort. Miamisburg's most well-known strength is its offensive line, anchored as it is by Josh Myers, by most accounts the top high school lineman in the country, and a Buckeye-in-waiting. Nonetheless, Troy's defense made them work for everything they got, and was able to keep their running game in check for much of the night.
So the Trojans finish the season at 10-2, GWOC North champions and regional semifinalists, in coach Matt Burgbacher's second year, just one year removed from being 2-8. The turnaround has been nothing less than shocking to me. I expected improvement this year, but I didn't see anything like this coming. Looking at the schedule before the season started, I thought 6-4 would be a pretty damned good season. The run they've made has been an incredibly pleasant surprise in a year that has been filled with a number of unpleasant ones. With a number of key players graduating and several others returning, I have no idea what to expect from them next year, but I'm already excited to find out. The future looks undeniably bright for Trojan football.
A few notes:
* After last week's game, in which Anderson ran approximately one million offensive plays, Miamisburg's more traditional, deliberate pace was a welcome sight. In theory, I like the uptempo offensive philosophy, but man, does it make for a long, slow game.
* I don't really miss Northmont in the league, but I do miss visiting their stadium, which I've always liked. I've been there several times, but this was my first time sitting on the home side. I'm still a little surprised that this game wasn't held at Welcome Stadium, but Northmont was a good setting.
* I've been following Troy football since 1991, and the Trojans have had some great teams in that time, including a poll champion (1996). Still, I've never seen them win more than one playoff game in a season. There was a stretch last night when I felt pretty good that streak was about to end. Although it didn't, I'm hopeful that the day will come.
* If ever the day comes when I finally decide to stop following the Trojans, it likely won't be because of logistical difficulties (traffic) or because the football isn't good. No, if ever I stop following them, it'll most likely be because I can no longer tolerate the behavior of people in crowds. The Miamisburg crowd booed the Troy band as they were lining up to take the field; the Troy fans who commented on this in incredulity, not five minutes later, booed Miamisburg's team as they came out. Who boos high school kids? Let the record show that I'm against it, even when it's Piqua. I'm also amazed by people who, even at a playoff game for a conference champion that wasn't expected to attain either of those achievements, will loudly yell things like "stupid" and "dum-dum" at their team's coach when they disagree with his decisions. And when such proclamations then result in an actual shouting match between a couple of fans sitting behind me, all I can do is roll my eyes and be glad it didn't devolve into an actual altercation.
Seriously. What is wrong with people?