Troy Buchanan’s football program is looking to push upwards from what head coach Ryan Nesbitt called a “breakthrough season” in 2018.
The Trojans had been fighting for some time to get a winning season, and last fall the team made big strides towards being a threat.
“Getting over that hump and getting the monkey off the back for the kids, just kind of the stigma surrounding the football program, and getting past that was big,” Nesbitt said, adding the team’s performance was as a morale springboard heading into the offseason.
The Trojans have already come and gone to one training camp in June, and Nesbitt said it was a good evaluation for the players. This week, the boys will head back to camp, culminating in a scrimmage at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 25 at Wentzville’s Liberty High School.
The first official day of practice is Aug. 12, and the Trojan’s first ball game is Aug. 30.
“We’ve been hands-on,” Nesbitt said. “We started lifting in January, and so we’ve been at it since then, but we’ll have workouts, we’ll have one week off – the week prior to practice – and then we’ll start and we’ll be blowing and going six days a week with the kids.”
Four out of five starters on the offensive line are returning, and all four of the defensive starters are coming back. The team lost some big players to graduation in May, but there is still a pool of talent available for Troy.
“We’ve got a lot of holes to fill, had some pretty talented seniors a year ago, but we’ve got several guys coming back that can be a be good senior class for us,” Nesbitt said.
Quarterback Kendall Hutchison is making a return to the offense, who was a junior starter last year.
“He manages our offense very, very well, he’s a high-IQ kid,” Nesbitt said.
Nesbitt said the coaches feel “really, really” good about the team’s attackers, saying they’re “athletic, they’re fast kids, they’re not your prototypical linemen.”
“But they’re also aggressive, they’re mean kids, we certainly feel fortunate to have that group,” Nesbitt said.
The defensive line will be a seasoned front as well, with two linebackers Nesbitt feels confident about, and on the secondary, the team will be breaking in some new players.
“We feel like we have the chance to have a solid, defensive unit,” Nesbitt said.
Historically, defense has been the team’s better position, but Nesbitt said the boys are working to re-write history and change that, and last year went a long way to bringing offense up to the proper speed.
“Certainly last year among other things was a breakthrough on that side of the ball, scoring just shy of 39 points a game, and running for 386 yards a game, which probably arguably would be one of the best rush offenses in the state of Missouri,” Nesbitt said.
Over seventy-five percent of the offense graduated, but with the starting lineup and quarterback coming back to the line of scrimmage, the team has an offensive anchor to plant.
“We’re excited,” Nesbitt said.
Football is a big sport in Lincoln County, Nesbitt said, and it continues to grow in popularity, with the evidence visible in the numbers of the Troy football program and attendance at home ball games. There’s been a steady build of energy in the community around the sport, and Nesbitt said the folks coming out on Friday night to see the Trojans play will get to see a group of boys they can be proud of, “That represents Lincoln County, that represents our community, and our kids certainly play hard for those folks,” Nesbitt said.