By Kevin Eickman
Time was ticking down and the Milford Buccaneers were clinging to a one-point lead. It was the first round of the 2017 Division II State football tournament and Woodbridge was giving the Buccaneers all they could handle. With just over eight minutes remaining in the game Woodbridge quarterback Troy Haynes completed a 25 yard pass to give the Blue raiders a 23-17 lead. Milford took the lead 24-23 with six minutes remaining and all the Buccaneers had to do was keep Woodbridge off the board to advance to the next round. No easy task with Haynes under center.
“We were just trying to hang on, we knew that we were in for a battle,” Buccaneers coach Shaun Strickland stated. “You are talking about trying to stop the defending State Champions and one of the best quarterbacks out there with everything on the line.”
With the Bucs defense up against it, the choice was to key on Haynes for the rest of the game. As the plays passed, Haynes was getting hit and harassed at every turn by a fired up Milford defense, yet he still kept getting up. It was only by virtue of a fourth and one stop at their own 27 yard line that Milford was able to hold on.
“I still think about the game he played that night, he just wouldn’t quit,” said Strickland. “We had a real good defense and I honestly still wonder how we were able to stop him.”
The stakes are much higher for the soon to be Woodbridge graduate as he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Lesions were found in his lungs, but right now the number one priority is a procedure to attack the kidney issue. No matter the outcome of the surgery, recovery is expected to take time and considerable money. To help offset the cost The Troy Haynes Fund has been established. The support of the Delaware football community has been strong, however there is still a ways to go.
“I can’t believe the amount of support and good wishes everyone has given me. You think of yourself as just a Woodbridge football player but then you hear from everyone up and down Delaware and you realize just how much people care about you as a person,” Haynes stated.
While it is easy to see the football player on the field, it is much more different to see the person under the uniform. Head coach of Woodbridge Jed Bell has coached Haynes for all four years as a Blue Raider. It was a career that witnessed Haynes garner two State titles and All-State honors as well as being named to this year’s Blue-Gold game.
“I remember seeing him as a lanky 10 year old kid and thinking to myself that he had a future as a football player. He really exceeded those expectations. Not just on the field but off it,” Bell said.
Being a football player is not what defines Haynes, it is just one of the things he does. “He is one of the nicest, funniest and most sincere kids I have ever met. Teachers and students love him and he is a natural born leader as well,” Bell said. “He is so nice and sets an example of how a student athlete should carry themselves.”
Haynes is committed to play for Division III power Mount Union where he plans to major in Sports Management. While the road ahead is going to be difficult, that November evening in 2017 demonstrates Haynes’ ability to take a fight head on. He has what it takes to win this battle and there is no doubt that he will.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Troy is going to beat this,” Bell said. “There is nobody tougher and better equipped to fight this fight and he is going to win it, no question.”
More information about The Troy Haynes Fund can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/eagfdr-the-troy-haynes-fund.
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