Prep football: Troy has had Trotwood’s number

Trotwood senior linebacker James Parker is one of the few returning defensive starters this season. Akron Archbishop Hoban defeated Trotwood-Madison 30-0 in the Division III high school football state championship at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
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Trotwood senior linebacker James Parker is one of the few returning defensive starters this season. Akron Archbishop Hoban defeated Trotwood-Madison 30-0 in the Division III high school football state championship at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Troy pulled off the unthinkable in the 2015 high school football season, snapping a five-game losing streak and landing an unlikely 21-20 Week 7 win at mighty Trotwood-Madison. That upset took on added significance because the Trojans finished 2-8 that season, Matt Burgbacher’s first as coach.

It was even better for Troy last season, following up with an equally stunning 10-6 defeat of visiting Trotwood, this time in the season opener. Troy had breakout success, going 10-2 and losing only to Miamisburg in the regular season and in the Division II, Region 8 semifinals.

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Trotwood (12-3) recovered nicely, advancing to its eighth straight trip to the state semifinals but losing 30-0 to Akron Hoban in a D-III state title game.

If Trotwood took Troy lightly before, that probably won’t happen again.

“People want to play their best game against you,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said. “The last couple years we had to learn that and now they understand what we’ve been preaching to them.”

The teams will open the season once again Friday night games when Troy visits Trotwood.

Like last season, Trotwood must rebuild its offensive line and replace most of a shut-down defense that performed so well in last year’s postseason. Rams quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers is a three-year starter. Senior linebacker James Parker also is a proven defender. And in the backfield is senior Ra’veion “Shocka” Hargrove, who owns 5,000-plus career rushing yards and has committed to Bowling Green State University.

Troy returns at least 16 key players, including receiver/defensive back Zach Boyer. But finding capable replacements for record-setting QB Hayden Kotwica and running back Josh Browder, who both graduated, will be key.

Troy won the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division title last season, its first since 2000. That also was the last time the Trojans had won a playoff game.

“You gotta give a lot of credit to them and their program and everything they’ve established,” said Graham.

• GWOC commissioner Eric Spahr issued a statement Wednesday concerning two separate incidents that occurred during scrimmages last week. Fights broke out at both the Xenia-Faimont and Springfield-Winton Woods scrimmages.

Players apparently were ejected from both matchups by game officials. Per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, there is no appeals process and a one-game suspension will have to be served by those players, meaning they’ll miss the season opener.

“We realize that almost all of our actions in the GWOC are (recorded) and shared given today’s technology and social media reaches,” Spahr said by email. “We will deal with the consequences, learn from it and move forward. The GWOC will continue to work on promoting good sportsmanship at all times.”

• Neighboring rivals Alter and Fairmont resume their season-opening series in one of three Thursday games.

Alter is coming off a 13-1 season that ended in the D-IV state semifinals with a 14-7 loss to eventual D-IV state champion Columbus Bishop Hartley at London. Alter also went 14-1 in the 2014 season that ended with a 21-14 loss to Cleveland Benedictine in another D-IV state final.

Fairmont last beat Alter in a season opener in 2004 when Brian Blevins was the Firebirds’ coach. Blevins became Wayne’s offensive coordinator the next season, just in time for a D-I state runner-up season with Warriors senior quarterback Braxton Miller.

Youthful Fairmont was 1-9 last season, Dave Miller’s first as coach after leaving an outstanding run at Covington.

• Xenia hosts Beavercreek in the Backyard Battle at Doug Adams Stadium/Veterans Field on Thursday. Also longtime Greene County rivals, the Beavers won 37-20 last season. Neither team has ever qualified for the postseason, although Beavercreek nearly did so at least twice in recent seasons.

Xenia has been rebooted with Trace Smitherman succeeding Bob DeLong as coach. Smitherman resigned from Stebbins to take over at Xenia.

• Old-school country station HANK-FM (101.5) will air 10 live GWOC games with Justin Kinner and Keith Byars providing commentary. First up is Alter at Fairmont on Thursday. A sister station to WING-AM (1410), this will be the first season for HANK-FM to carry high school football games.

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WEEK 1 GWOC GAMES

Thursday, 7 p.m.

Alter at Fairmont

Beavercreek at Xenia

Friday, 7 p.m.

Centerville at Fairfield

Mason at Springboro

Kings at Lebanon

Stebbins at Carroll

West Carrollton at Little Miami

Northwest at Miamisburg

Tecumseh at Fairborn

Troy at Trotwood-Madison

Massillon Perry at Butler

Eaton at Greenville

Piqua at Meadowdale

St. Marys Memorial at Sidney

Tippecanoe at Bellbrook

Northmont at Winton Woods

Springfield at Lancaster

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Wayne at Pine-Richland (Pa.)

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