XENIA — With each play, head coach Trace Smitherman and his Xenia High School coaching staff were quickly up in their players’ facemasks, explaining ways for the players to improve their positioning, or they were showing ways to read and react to the play that had just transpired even better the next time.
Four- to six-percent better.
Xenia sits atop the Miami Valley League Valley Division with a solid 7-1 overall record, 5-0 in Valley play. On Friday, they’ll host a Troy team that leads the MVL’s Miami Division with an equally impressive 7-1 overall mark, and 6-0 in their division. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. Oct. 25 start at Doug Adams Stadium.
“You want to continue to get better. Each day when we are out here on the field, we want to continue to get four- to six-percent better each time,” Smitherman said. “That comes with being focused. That comes with knowing the process. It’s doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time … all the time.”
A season ago, the two teams met in a Week 2 contest in Xenia. The game was postponed to Saturday due to inclement weather, and Troy escaped the two-day ordeal with a 21-14 win.
Xenia has not beaten Troy since 2015, when the Bucs claimed a win at Troy. The last time they’ve won over the Trojans at home was in 2014. The two teams did not play each other in 2016, but Troy has claimed the last two meetings.
“You don’t forget losses like that. To be in a close contest, only to have it postponed to Saturday, and then to lose. We made mistakes in that game, and we continue to work on cleaning up our mistakes. To be honest, our coaching staff has been kicking butt all week long, and we’re all just looking for a chance to rise to the occasion on Friday,” Smitherman said.
Looking to this week’s game, Xenia comes in with the Miami Valley League’s top rushing offense, overall defense, passing defense, and receiving defense. Troy leads the MVL in overall offense, and is second to Xenia in rushing offense.
“The key is going to be to stop their quarterback and running back,” Smitherman said. “Those guys aren’t just good football players in our league, they’re All-Ohio Area type kids.”
Trojans senior QB Brayden Siler is currently sixth in the MVL in passing with 810 yards thrown on 57-of-103 passing, with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Senior running back Kevin Walters is currently third in the league with 945 yards gained on 137 carries, with nine TDs.
“Our defense has to continue to rise, like they’ve played for the past five weeks,” Smitherman added.
Xenia’s defense has been as stingy as they can get. So far in eight games, the Bucs have given up 65 total points. In MVL contests, they’ve only given up 10 points. Presently, freshman defensive back Tremell Wright, senior defensive end Devin Hall, and senior linebacker Phillip Nared share the team lead in tackles with 52. Hall is also third on the league stats charts in sacks with seven. Junior teammate Zack Gaither, a Buc linebacker, currently leads the MVL in sacks with nine.
Smitherman referred to the team’s performance in the past five weeks. During that time, Xenia has outscored its opponents, 141-10.
Three of those five games were contested on the road. This will be Xenia’s final home game of the regular season, and Troy’s final road contest.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.