Trotwood-Madison jr. RB is coming off an area all-time, single-season best of 3,039 rushing yards and 41 TD's.

Hargrove carries on Rams’ RB tradition

Hargrove transitioned from a giddy first-year varsity starter to the all-time best single season an area back has produced: 3,039 yards rushing and 41 touchdowns.

“Last season was a shock to me, too,” said Hargrove following last Friday night’s final preseason scrimmage against visiting Miamisburg. “It was something that just clicked. We just worked and the offensive line led the way.”

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The high school football season starts for most teams with Friday’s openers, including Trotwood at Troy in what is now a non-conference crossover game in the revamped Greater Western Ohio Conference. Beavercreek hosts Xenia in the first of 10 Thursday games hosted by ABC 22 and FOX 45 and shown live on channel 45.2.

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Hargrove is the latest backfield sensation for the Rams, following Michael Shaw (2007), Antwan Gilbert (2008-10), Isreal Green (2011-12), Marc Raye-Redmond (2013) and Rondric Bogan (2015). All were outstanding in a dominating rushing scheme that has coincided with an unprecedented run of six straight state semifinal appearances and the Division II state championship in 2011.

Stat-wise, Gilbert had been the most productive, going for 2,576 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2009. Then Hargrove took over.

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Initially turning heads and making linebackers whiff as a force on the Dayton Flames youth football program, Hargrove has since become a YouTube sensation with crafty cutback TD dashes and open-field shiftiness.

Those are important traits, because Hargrove packs 171 sculpted pounds on a 5 foot 6 frame, small even by high school standards.

“I know what I’m capable of,” he said. “My speed and my quickness, I try to get that up every year and now I’m working on my catching just to improve my overall game. That’s what I base my game on.”

That lack of body mass has limited his recruiting to mostly Mid-American Conference offers (Toledo, Bowling Green, Ohio, Akron and Eastern Kentucky). But the intrigue factor is just as daunting as his numbers, especially for teams that lean on the spread offense and one-on-one situations.

Trotwood occasionally did that last season, but mostly relied on a massive offensive line that all but hid Hargrove from defenders. And he was at his best when it counted most, rushing for 1,107 yards and 14 touchdowns in four playoff games. That run ended with a 21-13 loss to emerging rival Toledo Central Catholic in a D-III state semi.

Hargrove scored a season-high six touchdowns in a 57-35 Week 10 defeat of Vandalia-Butler. He had four games of 300-plus yards, including a best 385 on 17 carries in a 46-7 Week 9 defeat of Greenville. He didn’t play in a stunning 21-20 Week 7 upset by Troy and was held to 25 yards in the following week’s 28-7 setback to Piqua.

Trotwood (10-4) graduated all but two starters from its offensive line: James Williams (6-3, 240) and Mickale Stewart (6-1, 270). Hargrove was a non-factor in two quarters against Miamisburg. But the Vikings are also loaded with high-profile players, including massive offensive lineman and Ohio State commit Josh Myers, and are poised to make a deep D-II playoff run.

“That’s what we’re going to see Week 13-14, if we’re fortunate enough to make it that far,” said Jeff Graham, in his third season as the Rams’ coach. “We’ve got a fresh new offensive line. We’re in the mix and trying to get things going. We’re getting there. The guys are a little nervous. It’s Friday night lights; you know how it goes.”

Hargrove’s sizzling sophomore season ranks him No. 8 all-time in the state, according to Ohio High School Athletic Association records, which is topped by Johnstown-Monroe’s Ross Franklin (3,472 yards) in 2011. However, the OHSAA doesn’t differentiate between regular-season stats and added postseason results.

The closest area players to Hargrove are No. 15 Ryan Brewer of Troy, who went for 2,856 yards in 1998, and No. 21 Curtis Enis of Mississinawa Valley, who totaled 2,765 yards in 1993. Both were crowned Ohio’s Mr. Football following those seasons.

“It’s good and bad,” Hargrove said of the follow-up expectations. “It just opens (the offense) up for other guys. I’m a team guy.”

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