Lake QB Paul Troyer makes strides in second season as starter

BY Joe Scalzo

 

On Friday night against Dover, Lake senior Paul Troyer looked like a different quarterback than last season.

And it wasn't because he was wearing the Blue Streaks' new blue and black alternative uniforms.

The strong-armed Troyer, who missed most of last season with an ankle injury, threw for 136 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 58 yards and a touchdown to lead the Blue Streaks to a 41-21 victory against the Tornadoes.

"I told Paul (on Saturday) morning that he had his most complete game ever," Lake coach Dan DeGeorge said. "A lot of that doesn't show up in the stats. He threw the ball well, he ran the ball well and he just had a really good command of the offense.

"He's gotten to the point now where he's understanding things really well. He's getting guys lined up, he's reading coverages well and he's just truly bought in. And, honestly, he's been that way all summer. I'm glad to see it come to fruition."

Troyer got off to a shaky start last season, completing 17 of 46 passes for 189 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions through his first nine quarters before going down with a nasty ankle injury early in a Week 3 loss to Copley.

"I was rolling out ... and the backside defensive end didn't get blocked," he said, recalling the play. "I was about to set up and throw when he dove at my ankles and twisted my body. My ankle just snapped.

"I knew it (was bad) right away, but I just wanted to tape it up and keep going because I'm not one of those guys who wants to sit out and watch his teammates play. The trainer told me to try and jog on it and I knew it was either broke or something was really wrong with it."

The injury forced Lake to shift running back Cameron Martin to quarterback and played a part in the Blue Streaks' nine-game losing streak to end the season. Troyer returned for a Week 8 loss to Perry but admitted he was never quite right. His statistics over the last three games were decent (33 of 66, 279 yards, 1 TD, three interceptions) but the Blue Streaks managed just 34 total points.

"I wanted to help the team but it was hard to run," he said. "I was wobbling around, basically."

The Blue Streaks' 1-9 record was the worst in program history and Troyer said this year's seniors made a collective vow in the offseason to make sure it was just a one-year aberration.

"My class has always been a winning class, even in eighth grade and as freshmen," Troyer said. "We all know each other really well and we've played together for so long that we just said, 'We can't let it happen again.' That's not Lake football. We definitely pushed ourselves in the offseason and during the season, too, to get better and prepare ourselves for this season."

Although Troyer's best and favorite sport is baseball — he can hit 90 miles an hour as a pitcher and his cousin, Chad Wagler, was a two-time MLB draftee who spent four years in the Houston Astros' minor league system — he has also played football most of his life. But after sitting out sixth and seventh grade football, he returned in eighth grade as a tight end before getting switched to quarterback as a freshman.

Consequently, this is the first year he's felt comfortable at the position.

"Last year, I did not know all the Xs and Os," he said. "I knew the routes, but I didn't know where guys were going to end up. I didn't know how to read defenses.

"This year, it's all clicking. It's so much easier. I know where everyone is supposed to be, I can read the defense's coverage and where the blitz is coming from. It makes my job 10 times easier. I know what's going to happen before the play."

That showed against Dover, where he completed 8 of 14 passes to add balance to the Blue Streaks' typically-strong run game.

"We're traditionally a running football team, as everyone knows, but Coach DeGeorge trusts me and our wide receivers, too," said Troyer, who was also 6 of 7 for 121 yards and a TD in Lake's 76-6 win over Columbus West in Week 1. "We have good wideouts like (senior) Tye Hunt and that helps spread out our offense. When we're running the ball and they're biting down, we can throw over the top."

As for his emergence as a running threat, Troyer is realistic.

"I used to be a running back; it was third-string, though," he said. "I wasn't that athletic and I wouldn't say I'm that athletic now. But I know when to run it and I know how to run it, especially after watching (RB) Cameron Martin. Seeing that dude every day, you know to run hard and not give up."

Lake's next two games — against Copley (1-1) and Louisville (0-2) — are both winnable, giving the Blue Streaks a chance for their second 4-0 start in three years. If Troyer keeps playing well, Lake could turn its 2017 season into a distant memory.

"We definitely have our eyes on making the playoffs, as any other team would, too," Troyer said. "We're just going to work hard and study up."

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On Twitter: @jscalzoREP

 

 

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