Nick Bova has been a lynchpin for the Troy Buchanan football team the past four years, playing key roles on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football.
A senior, Bova is the Trojans’ starting safety. He also plays substantial offensive snaps as a running back. Seven games into his senior season, Bova had accumulated over 1,800 career rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns, along with 321 tackles in his high school career. Bova was a part of last year’s Trojan team that made it to the state tournament semifinals.
Back in his freshman year, Bova did not expect to make the varsity roster and was hoping to make the junior varsity team. At a camp in Higginsville, Troy Buchanan coaches moved Bova from competing against the freshman to competing with the varsity team. Bova eventually made the varsity team as a freshman and played both offense and defense, with more of a focus on defense.
“After that, I started practicing with the varsity,” Bova said. “And then eventually started for them. More on the defensive side. That was the main focus. And then later on in the season, I played more offense. I played both ways towards the end of the season.”
Prior to high school, Bova had primarily played linebacker on defense. He moved to safety during his freshman season. Bova said footwork and eye technique were among the changes with the switch to safety.
Troy Buchanan head football coach Ryan Nesbitt said Bova caught the coaching staff’s attention the summer before his freshman year. He came to Troy Buchanan as a very talented incoming freshman.
“He ended up starting for us as a freshman on both sides of the football,” Nesbitt said. “He’s been a four-year, two-way starter. He was all conference as a freshman on the defensive side of the football. He’s been playing at a high level since we’ve had him.”
Even though Bova excels both on the offensive and defensive sides of the football, Bova’s speciality is defense.
“I just like hitting people,” Bova said. “It’s just fun to lay the wood out there. That’s just more fun to me. It’s a little easier in my mind too. A little easier just to know the play, run and get the ball.”
Bova had his best offensive statistical season his sophomore season. He rushed for 700 yards in the Trojans’ last season running a flexbone offense. After a 3-7 season, the Trojans transitioned to a spread offense. While there were challenges adjusting to the new offense, Bova said the Trojans’ strong performance in the season opener last season helped boost their confidence in the new offense. Troy Buchanan beat Ft. Zumwalt South 44-7 in last year’s season opener.
“It was pretty hard at first,” Bova said of the transition to the spread offense. “We don’t do a huddle. So you had to learn all the hand signals. We had to learn all the new plays. But then as the weeks went on, by the middle of the season, we were all fine. We all knew the plays.”
The Trojans finished last season with a 7-2 record. They won their first three playoff games before falling to Liberty North in the state semifinals. Bova pointed to the Trojans’ work ethic this offseason. They are focused to finish this season with a state championship. The Trojans started this season with five wins in their first seven games against a challenging schedule.
“We’re going to go and compete for the district championship and hopefully win that,” Bova said in October. “Win the final four game. We’ve had this goal since the beginning of last year of the state championship. And that’s been on our mind all this offseason is state championship, state championship.”
Nesbitt said the Trojans loaded up their schedule with the goal of testing the team early on. Nesbitt said in October he likes where the team is at as they look towards postseason play.
Although Bova is unsure of his plans after his senior football season, he is sure he wants to play football at the collegiate level. He has already received some offers and is waiting on a couple more offers. He anticipates waiting until the end of senior year to make his decision. Bova’s top priorities are finding a school and program that has a family feeling and is hard working.
“I want to be part of a winning culture,” Bova said. “A winning team, a winning program. That helps. And just has a good school. I want to have a good degree.”
Nesbitt stressed the positive impact Bova has had on the Trojan football program over the last four years. Nesbitt said Bova has been a joy to coach over the last four years, adding Bova is one of the players that makes the coaching profession worthwhile. He said Bova is a player worthy of emulation.
“When you talk about leadership, he brings it in every facet of our program and his life,” Nesbitt said. “You can see it academically. He’s over a 4.0 weighted GPA. He’s a 100% weight room attendance guy. He’s one of our strongest players. It’s really nice when your best players are your hardest workers. That describes him to a T.”
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