SIDNEY — Sidney got going on offense against Fairborn last Friday after being shut out the previous two weeks and will try to stay moving this Friday against one of the Miami Valley League’s best defenses.
The Yellow Jackets will host Troy as their homecoming opponent in an MVL crossover game at Sidney Memorial Stadium. They’re looking for their first win since 2015 against the Trojans, which won the last three Greater Western Ohio Conference American North titles before the two schools and eight others left to reform the MVL this year.
Troy lost coach Matt Burgbacher last spring when he left to take the head coaching job at his alma mater Tippecanoe. The Trojans haven’t missed much of a beat under new coach Dan Gress, though. They enter Friday’s game 5-1 overall and are first atop the MVL Miami Division with a 4-0 record.
“Even though they lost Matt and (his father) Charlie to Tipp, (Gress) has been there and it’s still more or less the same coaching staff,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “They’ve all had success, and they’re still a really sound football team.”
Sidney (2-4, 1-2) amassed 367 yards of offense last week in a 24-17 victory over Fairborn, which broke a two-game losing streak. The squad had managed a combined 195 yards in its previous two games.
Doenges said the squad was happy to get going again but said improvement is still needed. After scoring to take a 17-0 lead late in the second quarter, it didn’t score again until the final 10 seconds.
“The first half was really good for us,” Doenges said. “We’ve been so used to scoring quickly the last couple of years, and this year we’re trying to be a little more ball control and not playing with as much tempo.
“… Both teams when they had the ball put together some long drives. We only had three drives in the second half and got it into their territory on the first two but then kind of shot ourselves in the foot with some silly mistakes, then obviously scored on that last one.
“… We’ve got to learn from those mistakes we made that cost on us on those two drives. We had some third-and-short and fourth-and-short situations there that we messed up on.”
Troy’s only loss came in Week 3 at undefeated Cincinnati Turpin when it gave up 418 yards in a 62-13 defeat. Since then, Troy has held its last three opponents (Tippecanoe, Greenville, Stebbins) to an average of 210 yards and seven points per game. The Trojans also created six turnovers in those three games.
Troy senior defensive back Weston Smith is tied atop the MVL leaderboard with four interceptions. The squad has picked off seven passes, recovered five fumbles and recorded 10.5 sacks.
“They’re still really sound on defense,” Doenges said. “They’re maybe a little more aggressive than they were in the past. They have a lot of swagger and a lot of movement. You can tell just from watching film there’s a lot of confidence in those kids, just by the way they move around.”
The Trojans have averaged 345.7 yards and 27.8 points per game. They are run-heavy out of their shotgun formation but not run-dependent. Senior quarterback Brayden Siler has completed 37-of-66 passes for 591 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
Senior running back Kevin Walters is second in the MVL behind Sidney’s E.J. Davis with 714 rushing yards and has rushed for five TDs. Siler ranks third in the league with 628 rushing yards and has scored nine TDs.
“Siler is a pretty good dual-threat quarterback,” Doenges said. “… He’s the best or close to the best we’re going to see this year at being a guy that can make some things happen with his feet in the throwing game and scrambling. They do a lot of quarterback-designed runs with him, and that makes it tough to defend. …That’s something we’re going to have to contend with this week.”
Whether passing or throwing, the Trojans benefit from a large and experienced offensive line. The squad has four returning starters on the line and oftentimes has three linemen playing that weigh well over 300 pounds.
“I just got done saying we’d never seen a line as big as Xenia’s (two weeks ago), and I flip on the film, and these guys look pretty good size also,” Doenges said. “We did really good against Xenia and their size. Obviously Troy is a completely different offense, but we used our strengths with our speed by moving around our strong safeties and linebackers. Those are big guys, and we’re going to have to get our guys moving around a little bit.”
Sidney’s defense allowed an average of 341.6 yards and 24.6 points in its first three games but has allowed an average of 266 yards and 22 points in its last three games.
“Our first five game were (against) run-controlled (opponents), and I was happy our kids were able to go back and use some of the things we worked on in preseason (against Fairborn),” Doenges said.
“… These last five games (have opponents) with more of an even split, maybe 60 percent run and 40 percent pass. It was nice to kind of get back to that, and I was happy with how our kids handled those situations.
“We still have some things to work on (on defense) as that second half showed, but we’re getting better, and I like the way the kids are getting after it.”
Doenges doesn’t put any added emphasis on it being homecoming week — but said he always points out it’s better to go to a homecoming dance the day after a victory.
“Our guys have always done a good job that when we’re in the locker room or on the field, our focus is there, and when they leave, they can handle the homecoming stuff,” Doenges said. “… We look at it as just another game, and all games are important. But it’s always more fun to go to the dance after a victory. You’re still going to enjoy (homecoming) even if you lose, but it’s more fun if you win. You feel a little bit better about yourself.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.