Kobe Vinegar first embraced his mother Kim, then was joined by older brother Clem. A proud alum and starter on Trotwood-Madison’s only state championship football team, Clem reminded Kobe what Rams football is all about by admiring the super-sized rock on his finger.
“My brother has the ring and we’re trying to catch up with that,” said Kobe following an impressive 36-0 knockout of previously unbeaten Toledo Central Catholic in Saturday night’s Division III state semifinal at Lima. “It’s like we always say, this goes way deeper than football. The tradition is on.”
Trotwood (D-III) will join Midwest Athletic Conference reps Coldwater (D-V), Marion Local (D-VI) and Minster (D-VII) in this weekend’s season-ending high school football state championships at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. Finals involving area teams are:
• Marion Local (13-1) vs. Cuyahoga Heights (14-0), 10 a.m. Friday.
• Minster (10-4) vs. Warren John F. Kennedy (13-1), 10 a.m. Saturday.
• Trotwood-Madison (12-2) vs. Akron Archbishop Hoban (13-1), 3 p.m. Saturday.
• Coldwater (13-1) vs. Canton Central Catholic (10-3), 8 p.m. Saturday.
The championship series begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday when Massillon Perry (12-2) plays two-time defending state champ Cincinnati La Salle (12-2) for the D-II title. The other games are Columbus Bishop Hartley (11-2) vs. Steubenville (13-1) at 3 p.m. Friday (D-IV) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (13-1) vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier (9-5) at 8 p.m. Friday (D-I).
All the games will be televised live by Time Warner Cable channels 1311 (HD), 311 and 99 in Southwest Ohio.
It’ll be the sixth time Trotwood has played for a state football championship, including successive seasons from 2010-13. Trotwood went 15-0 and won its only state championship in 2011.
Trotwood’s tradition of outstanding football success reached a new level in the dismantling of Central Catholic (13-1), which featured Mr. Football nominee and senior running back Michael Warren. Led by Vinegar, a 5-10, 170-pound undersized middle linebacker, and a supporting cast of like defenders, the Rams throttled the Irish offense with an unprecedented shutdown effort for a game of that magnitude.
TCC punted nine times, had just one first down and 40 yards of total offense in its 38 plays. Warren, a University of Toledo recruit, was limited to 18 yards rushing in 15 carries. That pushed his career total to 7,619 yards, the fifth best all-time in Ohio. The Irish fared no better in passing, completing 4 of 16 attempts for 15 yards and two interceptions.
“They’re able to play lock-down man coverage and that’s what they did,” TCC coach Greg Dempsey said. “That way, they can commit to the box and get away with it.”
Trotwood’s decisive victory was unforeseen. Central Catholic had ended Trotwood’s season with losses in three of the last four years, including the 2012 D-II state title game. The state poll champion, SCC was the state runner-up last season, losing to Hoban, and had hopes of contending for another state title.
Instead, it’s Trotwood that will carry on its tradition of great football success.
“Just to be in the position, you’ve got to cherish it,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said. “I’ve always told our guys when you get here, you’ve got to leave a legacy.”
• This is the third straight season the MAC has had three teams playing for state titles. Coldwater is seeking its fifth consecutive championship and will be playing in its eighth straight title game. Marion Local had a streak of four state titles snapped in last year’s D-VI title game. Minster was listing at 2-4 but jump-started its season by upsetting Coldwater 33-18 in Week 7 and hasn’t lost since.
All three MAC rivals swept state championships in 2014, the first time a conference produced three title teams in one season.
• Tickets are available at all participating schools.