Troy looking for first title game appearance

Troy is looking for their first state title appearance in school history (photo:Janel Anderson)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Nov 21, 2014

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Troy, a town of around 1,000 people in the northeastern corner of the state, has never been known as a traditional state power in football. In 2011 and 2012 the Trojans combined for four wins. Just two years later the Trojans are making their second consecutive playoff appearance and will play in their first semifinal football game in school history on Friday with a berth to the 2-1A state championship on the line against Olpe.

"I am just along for the ride and happy to be a small part of making it to the semi-final round. I am humbled by the sacrifices our kids have made in the off-season and how determined they have been to make this an enjoyable and successful year. They are a fun group of young men to spend time with every day.” Troy head coach, Derek Jasper said.

Jasper, in his second year as Troy head football coach, is no stranger to the team and town. He was a record breaking all-state quarterback at Troy in the early 1990’s. He has also coached as an assistant in football and head girls basketball coach. Now he is getting the chance to make his mark in football.

“It is a privilege and honor to coach football in my hometown. Don Cash, our current defensive coordinator, was head coach here for 19 years, so you would be hard pressed to find any 2 people who care more about a football program than Coach Cash and I do about Trojan Football. I love this town and would not want to raise my own kids anywhere else or have them in any other school system.” Jasper said.

The Trojans (10-1) have been near perfect on the season besides their week two loss to Centralia. The one slip up was a 50-14 loss to the Panthers,who are a traditional state power, and now up to class 3A. Since then the Trojans are riding a nine game winning streak.

Troy is led by senior Tristan Speer, who is having an all-state caliber season at quarterback. He has thrown for 2,294 yards on the season. His 35 touchdowns to 2 interceptions are near the top marks in the state. Speer is an outstanding athlete, who captured a state title in wrestling last year as a junior with a perfect 37-0 record. He also does some things out of the ordinary for a high school quarterback/wrestler. He plays defensive tackle for the football team and also plays basketball during wrestling season.

“He has a big time arm and a lot of intelligence. He can throw the deep ball as good as anyone I’ve seen in high school,” Jasper said.  "The combination of playing QB and DT is unique for sure. His wrestling background helps him in the trenches on defense. He is somewhat forced to play D-Line for us as he is one of only three kids we have weighing in at around 200 pounds. The basketball/wrestling combo is a tough feat to pull off and it is very wearing on him during the winter months."

Speer's favorite targets have been a trio of receivers in Cuttar Huss, Collin Jasper and Jake Ross. Jasper leads the team in receiving with 787 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. Huss has 710 receptions and nine touchdowns. Ross has also chipped in over 500 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.

Troy can also run the football when they need to. Derek Franken leads the squad in rushing at 706 yards (8 TD), averaging over five yards per carry in 2014. Alex Schmille (448 rushing) and Speer (397) have also chipped in some rushing yards for the pass first Trojans.

The Defensive unit may be the most underrated for Troy. The Trojans only allow 9.6 points per contest. Jay Whetstine leads the unit with 104 stops in 2014. Nathan Gaarder is second on the team with 56 stops, while Schmille is third with 55. The Troy defense also has 14 interceptions as a team with eight different players registering a takeaway.

The Trojans will be on the road this Friay to take on Olpe. Olpe is a traditional 2-1A playoff team making their sixth semifinal appearance in school history. Olpe is riding a 10 game winning streak since their season opening loss to LaCrosse.

“Olpe is just solid in all three phases of the game. They block as well and tackle as well as anyone we have seen in Class 2-1A. We know their quarterback is an outstanding dual threat guy but they have several other weapons and are very athletic. I am very impressed with both their offensive and defensive line play.” Jasper said.

Troy will try to punch its ticket to its first ever state football championship this Friday.  The winner of Troy or Olpe would get Ell-Saline or Phillipsburg in the state championship next Saturday in the 2-1A finals. Ell-Saline is the only school left that has a state football title to its credit, an 8M-I title back in 1989.  No teams left in 2-1A have an 11-man football title in the history of their programs in the playoff era. A trip to Hays would be a dream come true for the Troy community.

“Football has been the heart beat of our community. Everyone is very supportive. It would be a dream come true to make it to Hays.”