“Defensively, they weren’t as big as what they usually are, but they are quicker across all levels,” assessed Troy coach Matt Burgbacher, whose Trojans also are looking for some playoff momentum after a breakout 10-2 season in 2016.
“That was a big difference. When you’re having to defend 53 yards — the width of the field — that stretches (your defense) thin.”
Appropriately, Trotwood senior running back Ra’veion Hargrove has switched his jersey to No. 1. He was held to 29 yards rushing but was a major factor in luring Troy’s defensive attention, blocking and returning kickoffs. He needs 72 yards rushing to hit 5,000 for his career.
In his fourth season as coach, Jeff Graham has found his calling in guiding the Rams. He’s equal parts mentor and fearsome taskmaster, especially when an assignment is missed. He demands as much out of a veteran coaching staff. The postgame talks are long and a finishing on-field prayer is a given.
Afterward, he challenged a Rams player to “bring home a 27” after taking a college entrance exam on Saturday. Told it was that other test, Graham said “OK, bring home a 600 or 6,000 or six million.”
That’s the kind of rapport that wins over players.
“It’s still early,” Graham said. “Everybody has to get their kinks out. Last year we didn’t play well in our first game. You want to make your mistakes early so you can fine-tune things later on. We made a lot of mistakes, but we made some big plays in between those mistakes.”
Troy hosts Xenia in the only area Week 2 Thursday game and Trotwood is at Piqua on Friday.
• Fairmont was still basking in the wake of a 13-12 defeat of Alter on Friday. The Thursday night win jump-started the Firebirds’ season and was a rare opportunity to continue the celebration the next day at school. Fairmont hadn’t beaten Alter since 2004.
“It was really incredible to watch our student body,” second-year Fairmont coach Dave Miller said. “To be able to go to school the next day and experience that with the whole school was just unreal. In 28 years of coaching I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced anything like that. It was pretty awesome.”
Fairmont, 1-9 last season, will host Hamilton in Week 2. Hamilton hosted Cincinnati Moeller on Saturday night. Last season Fairmont couldn’t convert a late fourth down and lost 35-28 at Hamilton.
• One of the more intriguing recent season-opening series came to an end with Marion Local’s 35-7 defeat of visiting Chaminade Julienne on Friday. That ends a brief two-year matchup that started with Marion Local’s 34-14 win to christen the debut of CJ’s Roger Glass Stadium in the 2016 opener.
It was a rare regular-season matchup between the best of the Midwest Athletic Conference and the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North Division. Alter and Coldwater have had some memorable matchups, but all those were playoff games and none recently.
Coldwater ventures this way for a Week 2 non-league contest at Clinton-Massie. That’s the first of a two-year series with Massie headed to Mercer County next season. Coldwater defeated Massie 63-14 in a D-IV regional final at Welcome Stadium in 2007, their only previous matchup. Coldwater opened Friday with a 35-28 dodging of Kenton. Massie pounded East Clinton 56-0.
• It’s on Wayne to keep the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East win streak intact. The four other divisional members — Beavercreek, Centerville, Fairmont and Springfield — won their openers. Wayne plays at Pine-Richland (Pa.) at 1 p.m. Sunday in a contest that will be carried live on ESPN as part of the GEICO ESPN Football Kickoff.
Wayne senior receiver L’Christian “Blue” Smith will verbally commit Sunday, either prior to or during the game. His top three are Ohio State University, Kentucky and Cincinnati.