BY DAN STICKRADT
TROY — When Troy opened up the 2010 prep football season with a 31-7 thrashing of Romeo, many around the Colts program felt good about the chances of a successful season.
In Week 2, Troy rolled over Royal Oak (38-12), but veteran Gary Griffith saw plenty of flaws in the Colts.
By the time Week 3 had passed, Troy was 2-1 following a 17-7 setback to Rochester. Troy had talent, but was showing signs of inconsistency. In Week 3 through Week 7, Troy scored only 29 points in that five-week span last season.
The Colts ended up 5-4 on the year and just missed the Division 1 postseason field as an at-large team by only a couple of playoff points.
“Last year we looked really good in our opener against Romeo and we never played that well again,” said Griffith, the Colts’ head coach since 1990. “We were very inconsistent. As coaches, you expect your team to get better each week of the season, but last year we failed to do that. I don’t know why.”
Troy did show some flashes late in the season with wins over Southfield Lathrup (16-13) in Week 8 and Troy Athens (38-21) in Week 9. Can that momentum be carried over into this season? Many of the skilled athletes departed by graduation, but much of the bulk on the lines is still intact.
“Our line play should be good. We have most of our offensive line back,” said Griffith. “We’ll need (plenty of good line play) because we have a lot of new guys at the skilled positions.”
Last year Troy rotated three quarterbacks. Junior Justin Losey (5-7, 145), although undersized, took plenty of snaps and appears to have improved his game by a sizeable margin. He’ll have plenty of wide bodies and girth to play behind, giving him ample time to make decisions this year.
Senior slot Davion Rice (6-1, 180) and senior receiver Chris Michael (6-2, 180) will be two weapons for Losey to look to as options. Senior Tyler Horne (6-2, 175) is another capable receiver that will get his chance to shine.
That group will play under the protection of several mammoths on the line — senior tackle Jarrett Bochniak (6-2, 225), senior offensive guard Matt Oppenlander (6-1, 180), junior guard Greg Webber (6-3, 285), senior tackle Jeremy Middleton (6-4, 220) and junior guard Tommy Richardson (6-3, 280).
The Colts also have a weapon in senior Shawn Murphy (5-7, 145), a placekicker who also plays soccer.
On the defensive side of the ball, Troy will use several of the same offensive starters. Bochniak, Middleton and senior Jay Fatkovich (6-0,185) will lead the linebackers unit. Losey, Rice and Horne will serve time in the secondary.
Beyond that, there are many question marks of who might fill in on the defensive side of the ball.
“We do have some shoes to fill,” said Griffith. “We have a lot of spots where we need for some kids to step up. We graduated quite a bit of kids (25) and we only have 44 players on varsity.”
Troy’s mission this year will be to improve as the season goes along and not peak in the first week of the season.
“I think if we continue to improve each week, then we can have some success,” noted Griffith. “Will that translate in six wins and us making the playoffs? I don’t know. I do know that we play some pretty tough teams and we’ll need to get better or we won’t make the playoffs. I think our league is going to be better than last year. Lake Orion and Clarkston are always very good. Rochester was a lot better last year, and I think Pontiac, Athens, West Bloomfield and Royal Oak will all be better. Where does that leave us? We’ll find out.”
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