By Rob Kiser
When it comes to high school football, it is a week like no other.
And this week, it just got a little bigger.
The Piqua and Troy football teams will take the field at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field for the 132nd time, with Piqua leading the series 63-62-1.
Adding to that, the GWOC American North Title is on the line.
Piqua comes into the game 7-2 overall and 4-0 in the American North, while Troy is 8-1 and 4-0.
And while Troy has clinched a home game in the Division II, Region 8 playoffs, the Trojans can secure the top seed with a win, while Piqua needs to win to assure themselves of a playoff berth in Division III, Region 12.
“This is like everything you dream of as a kid,” Piqua senior defensive back Hunter Hawk said. “It is unbelievable.”
It just adds to what is already a special week.
“I have talked to kids at other schools who don’t have a rivalry like this,” senior defensive back Dylan Cole said. “It really is a special week. It is like Ohio State-Michigan or a game like that (at the high school level).”
It is a non-stop week of activities at both schools leading up to the games.
“The kids have been through this before — as long as they manage their time it is fine,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “There are two things we tell the kids. When it comes time for the game Friday night, make sure you are well rested and well fed. No missing any meals during the week and don’t do anything that leads to missing sleep.”
Piqua senior defensive tackle Tristen Cox has come to understand how lucky he is to be a player in this game.
“I think over the years, I have developed an appreciation for it,” Cox said. “You learn how to deal with everything.”
That Piqua is in this position is impressive in itself.
The Indians found themselves at 1-2 after consecutive road losses to Trotwood-Madison and Franklin. Since then, Piqua has reeled off six straight wins.
Now, not only does the game have league title implications, but playoff implications as well.
“Definitely,” Nees said about the added significance. “We have a chance to add a GWOC North title to our trophy case.”
Nees never doubted his team could be sitting at 7-2, even after the 1-2 start.
“I knew we were capable of it,” he said. “It was just a matter of going out and executing.”
The Indians were also dealing with the losses of Darien Tipps-Clemons and Derek Hite to injury in Week 2 and later, were thrown some more adversity with the loss of offensive tackle Brent Lemmon due to injury.
Through it all, the Indians have prevailed to set up an even bigger game this week.
“We knew we lost two really good players (against Trotwood-Madison),” senior running back Allen Schrubb said. “We knew we just had to overcome adversity and execute better than the way we did against Franklin.”
Now, the Indians are about to play the biggest games of their high school careers.
“It is a feeling like no other when you take the field against Troy,” Hawk said. “You have the big crowd and you are so hyped up.”
It is a game, in one sense, that they prepare for all year.
“Even in the summer, we talk about getting ready for a big game,” Cox said. “When the game comes, you are really hyped up and everything, but you know how to handle it.”
The Indians will take a four-game win streak over the Trojans into the game and try to match Troy’s five-game win streak from 2007-11.
“Coach Nees talked about the fact neither school has won more than five in a row in this series,” Cox said. “We want to keep that streak going.”
And cap off a high school football week like no other.