By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — For as long as the Troy-Piqua football rivalry has gone on, it’s unfathomable to think of how even it remains.
The Trojans made it slightly less so Friday night.
In the 135th meeting between the two teams, Troy won its fourth straight, 35-9, to take a 66-63-6 lead in the overall series. It was the fourth straight win over Piqua that clinched an outright division title for Troy, too, this time in the Miami Valley League Miami Division, and it was the fourth straight win in the rivalry that clinched a playoff spot for the Trojans — the longest such streak in the Troy football program’s history.
It was also the fourth straight Week 10 loss to Troy for the Indians that prevented them from reaching the playoffs. The last time Piqua qualified for the postseason was in 2015 when it defeated Troy 26-7 in Week 10 — a win that capped off a four-game winning streak of their own for the Indians in the rivalry and gave them a one-game lead in the series at the time.
With that game out of the way, Troy can turn all of its attention on Week 11 and Lewis Center Olentangy.
“We celebrated Friday and Saturday with the boys, but it was nothing but Olentangy when they came in on Monday,” Troy coach Dan Gress said. “Our theme for this week is simply advance.”
• Clearing the Road
Along the way to the postseason, Troy has put up some impressive numbers.
Senior Brayden Siler became the first Trojan quarterback ever to rush for 1,000 yards in a single year, finishing the regular season officially with 1,056 yards and 13 touchdowns — including four against Piqua — on 180 carries.
And he isn’t alone, either. Senior running back Kevin Walters, who broke the 1,000-yard mark in Week 9, finished with 1,186 yards and 12 touchdowns on 177 carries, making this year the first time Troy has had two players rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season since Dave Levorchick and William Block did it back in 2000.
Siler still has a chance to pull of one more historic feat, too. He is sitting on 992 passing yards and, with eight more, would become the first Trojan quarterback ever to rush and throw for more than 1,000 yards in a single season.
“There’s something about him,” Troy senior center Riley Hubbard said of Siler after Friday’s win over Piqua. “There’s a magic … there’s just something about him. I’ve been riding with him since seventh grade, and he is the textbook example of a leader.”
And the Trojans know exactly why they’ve been able to pull all of that off, too — the offensive line, comprised mainly of Hubbard, Jacob Moorman, Ethan Freed, Dawson Hildebrand, Tito Fuentes, Colby Harris, Zach Ray, Sam Madigan, as well as others.
“This is a special group of kids, and it all starts with that offensive line,” Gress said. “Every time I bring up the O-line, all I talk about is how hard they work. They’re the first guys there at 6 a.m. Monday morning lifting. They’re the first guys there at 7 a.m. Tuesday watching film. And all that hard work has paid off. We don’t put up those stats without their work.”
• Brave New World
Friday, though, No. 3 seed Troy (8-2) — playing in an entirely new playoff region than the past three years — will face an entirely new kind of test in the Olentangy Braves.
Olentangy enters the game as the No. 6 seed in the Division II, Region 7 playoffs, with all five of those losses coming against D-I teams with a combined 40-10 record, including four playoff berth this year.
“They’re a very solid team and are in the playoffs for a reason, playing in a tough conference,” Gress said. “That was one of the first things we told the boys was don’t be fooled by five wins. There’s a reason why five wins got them into the playoffs — because of the quality teams they have to compete against.”
And the Trojan secondary will have to be ready in particular.
Quarterback Trent Maddox leads the Braves, entering the game with 2,102 yards on 177 for 275 passing attempts with 23 touchdowns but also 11 interceptions. Jake Coleman is his favorite target with 755 yards and 10 touchdowns on 60 receptions, with Jace Middleton adding 648 yards and five scores on 43 receptions. In the running game, Maddox also leads the way with 279 yards and two touchdowns on only 66 carries, with Landon Johnson adding 230 yards and one touchdown on 42 carries.
“For the most part, they’re a passing team, but they will run the ball, as well,” Gress said. “We’ll have to stop the run and pass, or else we’ll be in for a long night. They’re similar offensively in their schemes to Turpin — they’ll show a lot of different formations in that offense.
“And defensively, they’re just a very sound defense. They keep everything in front of them and make you drive the field, and they’re the type of team that, defensively, offensively, special teams, their guys are just always in the right spot.”
But the Trojans’ philosophy all season has been to stay focused on themselves and committed to each other — and that philosophy has them playing one last time in front of their home fans.
“That’s not changing,” Gress said. “It’s on us coaches to put the boys in the best position to be successful, and then they’ll be able to focus on each other and themselves and go out and execute.
“It’s nice to be able to play at Troy Memorial Stadium and give the seniors one last game at home.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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