Greg Billing
Greg Billing

Greg Billing began covering high school, college and professional sports in the Miami Valley in 1988 when he was a junior at Miami East High School. The Wright State University graduate has worked at the Troy Daily News (1996-1997), Springfield News-Sun (1997-2001) and the Dayton Daily News (2001-2016). He was inducted into the Dayton Auto Racing Fan Club's (DARF) Hall of Fame in 2015 for his auto racing coverage and has also earned numerous Associated Press awards for stories, headline writing and special sports sections. Greg lives in West Milton with his wife and two daughters. When not covering events, he and his wife are cheering for the girls as they play a variety of sports for the Milton-Union Bulldogs.

CONTACT

“It was a great ride with all my brothers,” Kotwica said. “It really started back in the summer. We noticed we really clicked as a team and we worked together. We were 2-8 coming off last season but it never really stopped us. We kept working. It just shows how much football is a team sport.”

CLAYTON – The Troy Trojans’ turnaround season mirrored that of the Miamisburg Vikings, a program that reversed its tough luck starting in 2012.

The Trojans won 10 games following a two-win season in 2015. They won the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division. They earned their first playoff appearance since 2011. They reinvigorated community spirit for Trojans football.

And – with community excitement rising faster than Troy’s win total – the Trojans nearly shattered all expectations in a comeback season, ironically, against Miamisburg in the Division II, Region 8 semifinals.

Troy shocked Miamisburg with two touchdowns in a 2 minute, 42 second span late in the third quarter for a 21-14 lead. But Miamisburg rallied for the final two touchdowns – the last coming with 5:04 left in the fourth quarter – to clinch a 28-21 victory at Northmont High School’s Good Samaritan Stadium.

The Trojan’s last- gasp drive started at its own 7-yard line with 1:58 remaining, but ended with Tony Clark’s interception near midfield with 42.5 seconds left.

“This one is going to sting for awhile,” Troy coach Matt Burgbacher said. “But once we get over this you can’t be nothing but proud.”

KDS_Troy_embed_600x100

In the first half, Troy twice trailed Miamisburg by a touchdown. The Trojans managed three first downs and 62 yards of offense. They opened the second half throwing an interception on their first drive and fumbling away a punt on what would have been their second drive.

Sam Jackson

Sophomore Sam Jackson grabbed a lobbed pass – his seventh interception of the season.

But as they had done all season, Troy responded.

Sophomore safety Sam Jackson grabbed a lobbed pass – his seventh interception of the season – and sprinted 53 yards to tie the game 21-21 with 5:49 left in the third. Junior Zach Boyer then recovered the fumbled kickoff, setting up Troy on the Miamisburg 45. Six plays later, senior quarterback Hayden Kotwica faked a hand off to Hayden Jackson and blasted up the middle for a 22-yard touchdown and the 21-14 lead with 3:07 in the quarter.

But Miamisburg scored on its next drive, a 41-yard touchdown run by Clark on the first play of the fourth quarter. He finished with 153 yards on 26 carries.

The Vikings go-ahead score came with 5:04 remaining when senior Jake Neatherton – who sat out the first five games after transferring from Valley View – took a hand off left down the Miamisburg sideline and delivered a stiff arm to cap the one-play drive with a 40-yard touchdown. Miamisburg set up the excellent field position by partially blocking a Troy punt.

“I don’t really like Miamisburg,” said Kotwica, out of respect for Miamisburg’s late-game heroics. “They always find a way to stick around. They’re a good program and props to them. They’re the better team tonight.”

Back in Week 5, Miamisburg beat Troy 21-17 on a 19-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left.

Spencer Klopfenstein

Josh Browder finished the night with 51 yards on 15 carries.

“It was a great ride with all my brothers,” Kotwica said. “It really started back in the summer. We noticed we really clicked as a team and we worked together. We were 2-8 coming off last season but it never really stopped us. We kept working. It just shows how much football is a team sport.”

Unofficially, Troy finished with 198 yards on offense. Senior running back Josh Browder – who entered the game with 1,411 yards – found running room tough against a fast, swarming defense. Browder finished with 51 yards on 15 carries. Kotwica completed 12-of-24 passes for 107 yards.

Jake Anderson recovers a fumble.

Jake Anderson recovers a fumble.

Defensively, the Trojans recovered three fumbles and had one interception.

But it was Miamisburg that came up with the biggest defensive stand midway through the fourth quarter with the game tied 21-21. Troy sophomore Shane Shoop recovered a fumble and returned it about 12 yards to the Troy 5-yard line. Browder’s first carry took Troy to the 3-yard line. His second went to the 1-yard line. His third carry was stopped at the line of scrimmage. On fourth-and-1, Kotwica was stopped on a run up the middle.

““That was a huge stop for them. Kudos to their defense,” Burgbacher said. “And I liked how our defense was playing. If we don’t get it, they have to drive 99 yards. I had total confidence in these guys.”

Added Miamisburg coach Steve Channell: “If it was me I probably would have gone for it, too. There shouldn’t be any second guessing there.

“Bunkers” is proud to sponsor coverage of the 2016 season of GWOC football on Pros Magazine.com. on Pros Magazine.com.

“Bunkers” is proud to sponsor coverage of the 2016 season of GWOC football on Pros Magazine.com. on Pros Magazine.com.

“Matt and I have talked many times and we’re good friends. Last year he mentioned he was mirroring their rebuilding kind of what we’ve done at Miamisburg. I admire him and he’s doing the right things. To go from 2-8 to the regional semifinals in one year, if he’s not the coach of the year then there won’t be a Christmas this year.”

Miamisburg

Miamisburg’s Jake Neatherton reaches over the shoulders of Spencer Klopfenstein unsuccessfully…

Of Troy’s five second-half possessions three ended with punts, one on downs and the final one on an interception. It was a tough ending to a turnaround season.

“I don’t have words for these guys. They mean the world to me,” Burgbacher said as tears welled up in his eyes. “These seniors did everything we asked. This hurts because I know this will be the last time we’re together but I’m proud of heck of these guys. Not too many people expected us to be where we are.

“Little things were the difference tonight. All good things have to come to an end. And unfortunately for us it was tonight. … Man, I just wanted this to go a few more weeks.”

Miamisburg advances to the regional championship against two-time defending state champ Cincinnati LaSalle next Friday at a site to be announced.

“I’m proud of everything,” Burgbacher said. “About 386 days ago we were 2-8. We were the bottom feeders in the GWOC North. The kids got this program back. They got the community back. The future is very bright with Troy football. They set a precedent. This is the expectation now. It goes beyond wins and losses. That’s the toughest thing losing this senior class. They brought so much more to the game and to our program than their play on the field. They’re great athletes, but they’re great kids and that’s more important to me.

“This hurts but we have to enjoy the season. … Now the kids know what it takes. Next year we take it another step further – hopefully three steps further – and get to where we want to go. Everything we asked of these kids they gave us.”

Kotwica

Hayden Kotwica leaps for yardage.

Share