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.

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Trotwood more than atoned for opening losses the last two years to the Troy Trojans.  Their 48-0 win Friday was enough to make Trojans coach Matt Burgbacher describe it as, “humble pie”.

Trotwood – Since the 2010 season five different teams from Ohio have delivered a regular-season loss to the Trotwood-Madison Rams. The Troy Trojans did it twice with victories 2016 and 2015.

The Rams certainly haven’t forgotten. On Friday the Rams served the Trojans – as Troy coach Matt Burgbacher described it – a “good dose of humble pie.” And it was full of hot Peppers.

Trotwood senior quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers, a seasoned three-year starter, led the Rams to a 48-0 victory over the Trojans on the opening night of high school football. The Trojans expected a heavy dose of shifty running back Raveion Hargrove early. Instead it was Peppers that grinned up the Trojans’ defense.

“That was the difference tonight,” Burgbacher said. “He managed the game. He was in control. He was doing audibles. And if you spread our offense out a little bit, then boom there goes Hargrove.”

While Troy held Hargrove to 43 yards on 12 carries, there was no stopping Stephens-Peppers and his speedy of receivers. Stephens-Peppers completed 15-of-23 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. He hit senior Dallas Daniels for a 13-yard score and senior William McDonald for a 53-yarder. McDonald later added a 70-yard scoring run.

Trotwood came out throwing – instead of feeding Hargrove as anticipated – and he completed his first three passes. He drove the Rams deep into Troy territory before Hargrove capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. It was 7-0 a little over four minutes into the game.

That was all Trotwood needed as Troy’s offense struggled without 1,600-yard passer Hayden Kotwica and 1,175-yard rusher Josh Browder, who both graduated.

The Trojans had two solid scoring chances but the Rams’ defense came up big. Troy drove down to Trotwood’s 7-yard line with 4:55 left in the second quarter – highlighted by junior Shane Shoop’s 35-yard run – but the drive stalled with a crushing hit that resulted in a fourth-down in-completion.

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Troy drove to Trotwood’s 15-yard line late in the third quarter following senior John Wehrkamp’s fumble recovery. But the Trojans turned it over on downs.

The Trojans finished with 146 yards of total offense (including 53 in the first half), while the Rams rolled up 428.

Hargrove entered the game with 4,899 career yards and 63 rushing touchdowns on 484 carries. He didn’t play against Troy in 2015 and was banged up again in 2016, where he finished with 76 yards on 17 carries.

Sophomore Brayden Siler also saw action and completed 1-of-3 passes for 13 yards.

Sophomore Brayden Siler also saw action and completed 1-of-3 passes for 13 yards.

“This one is on me. I’m taking the blame on this one,” Burgbacher said. “We’re going to get this fixed. We’re going to look a personnel. We’re going to look at X’s and O’s. We’re going to look at everything. I have 100 percent confidence in our kids. We’re going to come back and we’re going to be fine on Thursday.”

Troy has a short week to prepare for Xenia’s visit on Thursday. And that’s just fine with Burgbacher. He knows his team would rather get back on the field to redeem itself after Friday’s season opener.

“We’re going to learn from this or we’re going to stay the same,” Burgbacher said. “Our kids are going to learn from this. Our coaches are going to learn.”

Troy started senior Sam Coleman at quarterback and he completed 5-of-20 passes for 80 yards. Sophomore Brayden Siler also saw action and completed 1-of-3 passes for 13 yards.

Shoop led the Trojans with 39 yards on six carries before getting banged up.

“It’s week one. It’s not we lost to a bad football team,” Burgbacher said. “Over the last 10 there’s a lot of teams that have gotten beat by Trotwood. We’re just another one.”

Troy joins Centerville, Wayne, Piqua and Springfield as teams to beat Trotwood in the regular season going back to 2010. Trotwood has gone to the state semifinals or state title game each of those seven seasons.

Troy won the last two meetings 10-6 in 2016 and 21-20 in 205. Prior to that Trotwood had won the last nine meetings from 2014-2006.

“It’s disappointing in how we played and the result,” Burgbacher said. “This is where we want to get our program – the consistency Trotwood’s had the last 10 years. Sometimes you’re going to have a game like this. It kind of puts things back into reality. I know people are going to tear our team apart. But you know what, I have 100 percent confidence in these kids.”

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