Football head coaching turnover continues at Troy, elsewhere

Danny Gress wasn’t certain about the exact days until the next Troy/Piqua high school football game. No matter, the long-running series is a recurring subject in Miami County, either with Trojans players or fans.

“You have to embrace it,” said Gress, Troy’s new head football coach, laughing. “Troy-Piqua, that’s what makes high school football fun.”

Gress, 28, is part of a continuing coaching turnover that has swept through area varsity ranks in all sports at least the last decade. Promoted from Troy’s defensive coordinator, he’s at least the area’s 17th new head football coach since last season.

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Those widespread changes have affected the Greater Western Ohio Conference, Southwestern Buckeye League, Ohio Heritage Conference, Cross County Conference, Metro Buckeye Conference and Midwest Athletic Conference.

Gress, a Northmont grad who played four seasons as a linebacker and senior captain at Kent State University, succeeds Matt Burgbacher. Gress was on Burgbacher’s staff at Troy all four previous seasons.

Burgbacher surprisingly resigned following last season (10-2) to succeed Joel Derge at Tippecanoe. Burgbacher played for his father, Charlie Burgbacher, at Tipp. That created an opportunity at Troy that Gress embraced.

“It’s a dream job in a dream community at a dream school,” said Gress of his first head coach position. “I’m really humbled and honored.”

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Troy will join nine current GWOC American Conference teams in reviving the Miami Valley League this fall. Most other area affiliations also will undergo membership changes in the next two years. Six – among 20 – of next season’s GWOC and MVL teams will have new head football coaches.

Gress’ previous tenure at Troy coincided with a revival of Troy football prominence. Troy beat Trotwood-Madison twice in the regular season, produced three Division II playoff teams and was 10-2 in 2018 and ’16.

“It’s an exciting time for Troy football,” he said. “The success we had when we took over in 2015 is great. Our No. 1 goal is to take this program to the next level. With the transition moving forward I couldn’t have walked into a better spot.”

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Bradford: Robert Price succeeds interim coach John Cruse, who served his second stint with the Railroaders last season. Bradford enters next season on a 22-game losing streak and continues to be plagued by low participation numbers and coaching turnover.

It’s the first head coach position for Price, who last season was an assistant at Fairborn.

Greenville: Aaron Shaffer resigned after seven seasons to become the Green Wave athletic director and offensive coordinator Bart Schmitz succeeds him. Schmitz played at Versailles for Al Hetrick.

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Greenville was 3-7 last season and 0-5 in the GWOC American North. Shaffer’s best season was 5-5 and 4-1 in 2014. Overall, Greenville was 20-50 under Shaffer and 7-28 in GWOC games. Greenville leaves the GWOC for the revised MVL having not won a conference game since 2015.

Middletown Madison: Ricky Davis succeeds Steve Poff, who resigned after five seasons. At 25, Davis is among the area's youngest head coaches.

Madison was 42-15 under Poff, who will remain on the staff as the O-line coach. Madison advanced to the D-V state semifinals in 2017 in their first playoff appearance. The Mohawks were defeated in a D-V regional final in 2018.

Triad: Joe Cardinal resigned after three seasons. At 5-1 last season, Triad was in good position to advance to the D-VII playoffs, then lost its final four regular-season games.

Versailles: Ryan Jones resigned after three seasons at Troy Christian to succeed Adam Miller at Versailles. Jones was an assistant for two seasons at Troy Christian under then-head coach Steve Nolan before taking over there. TC was a combined 22-9 under Jones, including 9-2 in 2016 and 8-2 last season.

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Miller was not retained after seven seasons with the Tigers. Versailles was 2-8 in 2018 and a combined 30-32 under Miller.

West Carrollton: Dion Black succeeds Derek Hauk, who resigned after two seasons to devote more time to a young family. Hauk was youngest of the GWOC coaches at 30. The Pirates, 2-8 last season, were a combined 3-17 under Hauk.

It’s the first head coach job for Black, previously a defensive coordinator at Miamisburg and the last two seasons at Trotwood-Madison, including the D-III state title season (15-0) in 2017.

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