"The waiting is the hardest part...."---Tom Petty, 1981.
Troy High School's football team was supposed to have their home opener 2 weeks ago vs. Averill Park. It wasn't so much the installation of lights at Edward Picken Memorial Field that was at issue, but an additional change to the field, replacing natural grass with Field Turf, the artificial surface popular with major colleges and some pro teams. Tropical Storm Irene passing through in August delayed the process, but it wasn't alone. Most construction projects in the area are never completed on time for one reason or another, even if weather isn't a factor.
On Friday, the Flying Horses finally got to play in front of the home crowd, facing off against Bishop Maginn, with first place in the Southwest Division of Class A on the line. Everyone expected a tight, close game. Instead, it was over about halfway through the 3rd quarter. Maginn used an onside kick on the opening kickoff, hoping to catch Troy off guard. That worked, but not for long. The Troy defense induced a quick 3-&-out, but Maginn did the same when Troy took possession. Not long after that, it was the Raheem Felder-Daquan Holmes show. Felder ran for 3 touchdowns and added two TD tosses to Holmes, who also returned an interception 45 yards for another score. Maginn finally found the end zone halfway through the 4th quarter, but by then, it was over, and some folks were already headed for the exits. Troy moved a step closer to clinching the division with a 48-7 blowout win.
If you believed the local press before the game, you'd think there wouldn't be an empty seat in the building. However, the bleachers on the visitors' side of the field were sparsely filled. The game was broadcast on local television, which might've contributed to the available seating. During the 4th quarter, a fight broke out on the Troy side of the bleachers. I don't know exactly what prompted the fracas, but what I do know is that security was doing its level best to keep people from standing at the fence before the bleachers, obstructing the fans' sight-lines, throughout the game.
Renovation isn't quite complete, and won't be for a while yet, as they may need to create a walkway to get to the field. The tennis court is right next door, and also looks in great shape. The only knock is that they could've started the renovation immediately after the school year ended in June, so it would've been ready for summer practice. Then again, as I said before, most construction projects slow to a crawl for reasons known only to those involved, mostly scheduling conflicts getting in the way.
Troy High has long exorcised the ghosts of its winless teams from 1979-80, when the team was so bad, it couldn't execute a goal line offensive drill at a pep rally. Based on their showing on Friday, not only will they reach the Class A Super Bowl, they may just run the table all the way to Syracuse again. They're hungry, focused, and confident. For the opposition, that's a scary equation to overcome.