A mid-season thigh injury sidelined Trotwood-Madison sophomore running back Raveion Hargrove in a loss to Troy. The nagging injury limited his production again a week later in a loss to Piqua.
Hargove is now healthy, and so are the Rams.
Behind a 364-yard, six-touchdown performance from Hargrove, Trotwood hampered host Butler’s playoff hopes with a 57-35 win in the GWOC North Division finale for both.
The Rams improve to 7-3, 3-2, while Butler falls to 7-3, 4-1. The Aviators’ consolation prize is the program’s first GWOC North Division title and first conference title of any kind since 2002 (GWOC Western Division).
Hargrove carried 19 times and had 341 yards and five TDs in the first half. He ends the season as the GWOC’s leading rusher with 1,935 yards.
“He’s a special player,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said. “With his size and the things he can do you feel good putting the balls in his hands. He’s a great player.”
“When I get the ball I feel like I’m going to take it to the house every play,” Hargrove said. “My offensive line does a great job opening holes and after that I just go.”
Trotwood got out of the gate early against Butler.
The Rams scored on five of six first-half possessions and led 32-14 at the break. Hargrove had a 98-yard TD run and an 80-yard run to fuel his first-half stats. He carried the ball five times in the second half.
Trotwood amassed 670 yards of offense, while Butler managed 341.
The Aviators were led by senior QB Chandler Craine who threw four TD passes.
Trotwood, which saw its string of seven straight GWOC North titles snapped with the back-to-back losses to Troy and Piqua, has found its footing heading into the D-III postseason.
“It hurt,” Hargrove said of his notable absence in the two defeats. “I feel like I let my team down because I wasn’t taking care of my body. But we regrouped after that, overcame adversity and came together as a team.”
“He tried to play through it but it was a deep thigh bruise,” Graham said. “It wasn’t effective for him to go out there and it was best we sat him those two games. It also showed our other guys they had to pick things up. That gave us a chance to get our young guys the experience they needed to get where we want to go.”
Trotwood will host a first-round game next week in the regional quarterfinals against an opponent to be named Sunday.
“This was a statement game,” Hargrove said. “We had to let every one in southwest Ohio know that Trotwood is the real deal. We gave it to them and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Butler coach Greg Bush, visibly upset after the game, declined comment.