Trojans football here to stay

Patrick Newell

I must admit, I wondered aloud more than one time when and if Greene’s football team would turn the corner. That was three years ago when, the Trojans had five combined wins over two seasons under head coach Tim Paske. Paske moved into the top coaching spot at the school on the heels of longtime coach Lynne Simmons. Simmons took the program from the defunct Tri-Valley League, and eased it back into 11-man football. His first full year in division play the Trojans were respectable. They subsequently produced a number of winning seasons and a pair of playoff appearances. He seemed to leave the program in good stead when he left after a 4-5 season, and newcomer, Paske, had plenty of holdovers on which to build his program. Aside from a scintillating debut win over Oxford in 2003, there was little to rave about in a 3-6 season. The Greene offense was near or at the bottom of the local standings, and the defense was also near the bottom in points allowed and yardage allowed. The following year yielded one less win, but signs of life were appearing. The offense had less lows and more consistency. Plus, junior quarterback Kurt Spear emerged as a bona fide slinger with the capability of moving the Trojans offense. Greene nearly made the playoffs the following season, and five of its six wins were shutouts — a great indicator that the defense had become the equal of a burgeoning offense. Statistically, the Trojans were near the top in most categories. Was that a fluke? Spear graduated, so a quarterback who had never seen more than mop-up duty (Corey Breck) replaced a four-year starter. Moreover, Spear’s leadership on the field was the “immeasurable” statistic in need of replaced. I was impressed with the Trojans to start 2006, but a loss to Sidney — a year in and year out nemesis — made me wonder if they were truly ready to take that next step. Then came a stunning win over Unatego. Stunning in that it came so easily. After giving up an early score, it was all Greene. The Trojans rode out the regular season with just one defeat, and pushed top seed Lansing in the Class C playoffs. Yes, the Trojans were in the playoffs just two years after finishing 2-7, and sporting three straight losing seasons overall. Paske has echoed the mantra of “building on the foundation” established by players now graduated. What layer did Greene toss on the foundation last week? How about the program’s first win over Sidney in the Paske era. “This is big for us,” Paske said. “Sidney may be down a little bit, but still they have been a successful program, and our defense played extremely well.” Against a team that had averaged over 30 points a game the past two seasons, Greene allowed no offensive touchdowns (Sidney scored on a long punt return), and 67 total yards — all on the ground. I would say the Trojans’ results the past two seasons — plus one game in 2007 — have quieted any further wondering aloud about Greene football. This is a program that has perched itself in the upper tier of Class C football, and I believe the Trojans are there to stay for quite a while.

–– Patrick Newell