Troy Trojans Football 1969-1971
The 1969 Troy (Ohio) Trojans were a high school team in the rebuilding stage. Lead by undersized sophomores, they were having a terrible season (2-7-1). This was their fourth straight losing season in the Western Ohio League (WOL).
On the last play, of the last game of the season, with the game tied 22-22 against powerful rival Dayton Wayne, a pass was received by 165-pound Randy Walker. He was tackled 18 inches from the end zone.
After the game coach, James "Jim" Conard, ordered the entire team to walk around with a piece of cloth that was 18 inches long, until the start of the 1970 season.
After the season, Walker gave up his first love baseball. He joined the track team to build up his speed and stamina, and started lifting weights-gaining 30 pounds. He reported to fall practice at 195 pounds.
The 18-inch strip of cloth motivated the team, as Conard and Walker did not lose another game the remaining two seasons, going 20-0, and winning back-to-back WOL titles.
In 1971 they outscored opponents, 406-54, out-gained opponents 3,711 yards to 1,267, and punting only 19 times all season. The team and the defense dominated opponents, forcing 31 turnovers, and posting five shutouts (including a 35-0 victory over Wayne).
Three backs would be selected to the All-Western Ohio League team, Gordon Bell, Walker, and Joe Allen. Bell, who rushed for 3,707 yards in three seasons, ran for 1,447 yards (on 198 carries) and scored 19 touchdowns in 1971. He was named first team All-Ohio back-to-back in 1970 and 1971.
Bell could have also been named "Ohio Back of the Year," had he not finish second, to Archie Griffin (
Walker, whose main assignment was to block, rushed for 724 yards, and averaged 14.9 yards per carry. Allen rushed for 544 yards on 67 carries (8.1 YPC).
David Starkey, the heart of the defense was honored as an All-Ohio defensive lineman. Elmo Boyd, a track star who played football in his senior season (1971), finished with 12 catches for 374 yards (31.2 yards-per-catch average) and seven touchdowns.
In 2001, the 1971 team was selected by a panel of Dayton Daily News sports writers as the best Miami Valley prep football team in the last 50 years. Coach Conard retired after the 1971 season to become a principal at Troy Junior High.
Walker started at full back for three seasons for the Miami RedHawks. His team went 32-1-1, winning the Mid-American Conference title all three years. Walker was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals (1976; 13th round).
However, instead of becoming an NFL player he chose to become an assistant football coach (later head coach of both the Miami RedHawks and the Northwestern Wildcats).
Boyd went on to play football at Eastern Kentucky and with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. Starkey and fullback Allen played for the Florida Gators. In addition, quarterback Al Mayer, played at Marshall.
- Begley, Bill. - "Troy of '71 Set Standard for Area Gridiron Greatness - 20 players from that squad went on to play college football". - Dayton Daily News. - August 24, 2001.
- Myslenski, Skip. - "As a High School Player, Randy Walker Once Cost His Team A Victory When He Missed Scoring a Touchdown by 18 Inches". - Chicago Tribune. - December 24, 2000.
- Jacoby, Steve. - "Coach Gets 'Quite An Honor' - Sidney resident Jim Conard recognized by Marshall University alumni for efforts". - Dayton Daily News. - October 17, 2002.