Loaded Rams in another title hunt

Trotwood defensive end Devon Smith (left) helped shut down Toledo Central Catholic running back and Mr. Football Michael Warren (with ball) in a 36-0 D-III state semifinal win at Lima last Saturday. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Trotwood defensive end Devon Smith (left) helped shut down Toledo Central Catholic running back and Mr. Football Michael Warren (with ball) in a 36-0 D-III state semifinal win at Lima last Saturday. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Trotwood-Madison seems to have all the parts in place to produce a high school state football championship.

The Rams are humming under the breakout season of junior quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers. Junior running back Raveion Hargrove and junior receiver Caleb Johnson have been the perfect run-throw complement to each other behind an offensive line that has turned dominant.

As good as that sounds, the defense has been better. Linebackers Kobe Vinegar and James Parker and defensive end Devon Smith are all high-motor guys who lead by example.

And that’s the rub. Trotwood was similarly loaded in the 2010-13 state title games and completed the task just once, going 15-0 to win a Division II state championship in 2011.

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“This is something for these kids,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said. “Once they get on that field they’re going to get emotional.”

Trotwood (12-2) will play defending state champ Akron Archbishop Hoban (13-1) in the D-III championship at 3 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

The Rams will be joined by another set of three Midwest Athletic Conference teams. Marion Local (13-1) is first up, playing Cuyahoga Heights (14-0) for the D-VI title at 10 a.m. Friday. Minster (10-4) plays Warren John f. Kennedy (13-1) at 10 a.m. Saturday for the D-VII title and Coldwater (13-1) finishes the seven-game championship slate against Canton Central Catholic (10-3) at 8 p.m. Saturday.

All the games will be carried live on Time Warner Cable channels 1311 (HD), 311 and 99 in Southwest Ohio.

This is the fifth season in the last seven for Trotwood to play for a football state championship.

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• Toledo Central Catholic senior running back Michael Warren was named Mr. Football by the Associated Press on Thursday. Among the nominees to contend for the state’s top high school football honor was Miamisburg senior offensive tackle Josh Myers.

A 5-10, 210-pound elusive power runner, Warren rushed for 2,740 yards and scored 45 touchdowns.

“It’s real special to me to be able to bring this recognition to the city of Toledo and to bring it home to my family,” said Warren, who is committed to Toledo University.

Warren is the first Toledo-area player to receive the award in its 30-year existence. Trotwood-Madison stopped Warren in last week’s D-III state semifinal, holding him to 18 yards rushing in 15 carries in a decisive 36-0 Rams win. It was the only loss for TCC (13-1) and vaulted Trotwood (12-2) into Saturday’s state final.

Four area players have won the coveted award: Piqua running back Brandon Saine (2006), Troy running back Ryan Brewer (’98), Mississinawa Valley running back Curtis Enis (’93) and St. Henry quarterback Bobby Hoying (’90).

• Covington quarterback Nathan Blei and linebacker Deron White, both seniors, were named Division VII first team All-Ohio by the Associated Press. They were key players in the Buccaneers’ 10-0 regular season under first-year coach Tyler Cates. Covington (11-1) also won its first state AP poll title. The Buccs lost 42-14 to Fort Recovery in a D-VII, Region 28 semifinal.

Also named first team D-VII All-Ohio were Minster senior offensive lineman Isaac Dorsten and Springfield Catholic Central senior Dominic Catanzaro as a punter.

• Coldwater doesn’t know anything other than playing for state championships under coach Chip Otten. Since he succeeded the late John Reed, the Cavaliers will have played in eight consecutive title games under Otten. Should Coldwater win on Saturday, it will be the Cavaliers’ record-setting 25th consecutive playoff win and fifth straight title.

Coldwater is 92-12 under Otten’s watch since 2009.

Cin. La Salle 14, Massillon Perry 7: The Lancers (13-2) kicked off the seven-game championship series by winning their third straight D-II title on Thursday night. The Greater Catholic League South Division power is the first Queen City team to capture three consecutive state titles since Moeller from 1975-77.