High school: Trotwood-Madison Rams
Division: III, Region: 12
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Affiliation: Greater Western Ohio Conference, American South
Head coach: Jeff Graham, fourth season, 35-9 overall record.
Assistant coaches: Kerry Ivy, Mike D’Orazio, Greg Moore, Jerrell Freeman, Dion Black (previously OC at Miamisburg), Jordon Paschal, Chris Townsend, Kevin Saterfield and John Wortham.
2016 record: 4-0 GWOC American South; 12-3 overall.
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2016 highlights: Dropped a 17-6 Week 10 decision at Wayne in a matchup of two of the area’s best programs regardless of division. Rebounded by defeating Wapakoneta, New Richmond, St. Marys Memorial and Toledo Central Catholic to make its sixth appearance in a state championship, all but one since 2010. Lost the D-III state title game 30-0 to Akron Hoban. Marked the seventh straight season Rams have advanced to at least the state semifinals.
5 key returners
1. Markell Stephens-Peppers: 6-0, 170, sr., QB
2. James Parker: 6-0, 230, sr., LB
3. Dallas Daniels: 6-0, 170, sr., WR
4. Ra’veion “Shocka” Hargrove: 5-7, 175, sr., RB
5. William McDaniel: 5-10, 180, sr., ATH
Transfers: Senior WR Caleb Johnson went to Springfield.
Coach’s comments: We have great coaches and great senior leadership this year.
About the Rams:Verbally committed to Bowling Green State University, Hargrove ranks among the most all-time electrifying backs in area history. He’s already rushed for 5,036 yards and scored 65 touchdowns as the Rams’ featured back the last two seasons. He surpassed 300-plus rushing yards four times as a sophomore, including a career-best 385 (and four scores) against Greenville.
That 2015 season was one for the ages: His 3,039 rushing yards – in 14 games – is an all-time, single-season area best and ranks ninth best in state history.
Stephens-Peppers is in his third season as the starting QB. He passed for 1,863 yards and 22 TDs last season and had just three picks. But much of that production went to Johnson. It’s on Daniels and others to replace that down-field presence, which will be key to freeing Hargrove. Defense must also overcome the loss of first team All-Ohio LB Kobe Vinegar (West Virginia Wesleyan).
Two key games are Week 3 at Pickerington Central and Week 10 against visiting Wayne. Central crushed Wayne’s bid for an elusive state title by defeating the Warriors 17-14 in a D-I regional final last season, then lost 29-27 to eventual state champ Cin. St. Xavier in the state semifinals the following week.
Schedule: All games 7 p.m.
Week 1: Fri., Aug. 25, Troy
Week 2: Fri., Sept. 1, at Piqua
Week 3: Fri., Sept. 8, at Pickerington Central
Week 4: Fri., Sept. 15, at Tippecanoe
Week 5: Fri., Sept. 22, Greenville
Week 6: Fri., Sept. 29, at West Carrollton
Week 7: Fri., Oct. 6, Fairborn
Week 8: Fri., Oct. 13, Stebbins
Week 9: Fri., Oct. 20, at Xenia
Week 10: Fri., Oct. 27, Wayne