By Rob Kiser
It is a week most high school football players never get to experience.
The food tastes better, there is excitement in the air every day at school and then there’s “The Game”.
That’s right, it is the annual Piqua-Troy game Friday night at Troy Memorial Stadium.
And will be the final high school game for Piqua seniors Austin Davis, Cale Meckstroth, Hayden Schrubb, Jacob Bushnell, Colin Mills, Holden Yount, Sam Herndon, Alex Phillips, James Congdon, Ben Schmiesing, Devon Brown, Raj Patel, Colten Meyer, Brent Lemmon, Ben Bynum, DeShawn Hester, Derek Hite and Robbie Comstock.
“It is pretty exciting,” Piqua senior tight end/defensive end Derek Hite said. “You really do (have an appreciation for how special the whole week is).”
Senior defensive back Jacob Bushnell agreed.
“There is a lot of hype during the week,” he said. “It is one of the biggest rivalries in the state. You are so excited when you take the field for this game.”
Ben Schmiesing summed it up pretty well.
“Even if we were 0-9, this would be a huge game,” Schmiesing said. “But, obviously that is not the situation this week. You try not to think about it too much (playoff possibilities and sharing the league title with a win), but we know this is a must win game for us.”
Piqua football coach Bill Nees looks forward to the week every year.
“I think it is great to be finishing the season playing your rival,” Nees said. “It is a great experience for the kids.”
And while some may look at everything that is part of the week as a distraction, Nees doesn’t it see that way.
“Not at all (is it hard to be focused for the game),” he said. “This is the most fun week of the year. It can get a little more intense as the game gets closer. But, we try to keep the players relaxed. I think we play much better football when we are relaxed.”
And Schmiesing said focus in never an issue during Troy week.
“Not at all,” he said with a smile. “With everything that is going on, he would be hard to focus on anything but the Troy game.”
And a series that has swung back-and-forth in recent times, is now dead even at 63-63-6.
Piqua won five of six games from 2001-06, before Troy put together a five-game win streak from 2007-11.
The Indians answered with a four-game win streak to take a one-game lead in the series, before Troy evened things up with last year’s 37-14 win over Piqua.
Maybe even more interesting (thanks Indians Rule) since 2000, Piqua is 9-8 and outscored Troy 335-328.
Piqua can keep its playoff hopes alive with a win, as well as sharing the GWOC North title for the first time since 2006.
“It would be a big game anyway,” Nees said. “But, it is good to have all that stuff on the line (conference title, playoff berth). It just adds to everything.”
It will be the last regular season game for the Piqua seniors.
“It is (hard to believe),” Hite said. “The time has flown by.”
And Schmiesing hasn’t forgotten the bad taste last year’s game left in his mouth.
“I can’t even imagine how bad our seniors felt last year,” Schmiesing said. “You don’t want your last game to Troy to be a loss. We lost the lead (in the series), but now we have a chance to take it back before we hand things over to next year’s seniors.”
As the Indians prepare for their biggest game of the season — and maybe in their lifetime.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.