Mansfield Senior coach Chioke Bradley knows all about Trotwood-Madison football. And it’s not because the Tygers and Rams will contend for a Division III high school state championship this week.
“It’s a monster challenge,” admitted Bradley during this week’s statewide media conference call. “Growing up as a kid and playing high school ball, I always heard about Trotwood-Madison having this unbelievable football program. … Our kids know it and our staff knows it. We understand this game is not going to be for the weak or the weary.”
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Trotwood (11-3) will be looking to add its third state championship and second since 2017 against Mansfield Senior (13-1) when the teams collide in Canton at 3 p.m. Friday. That will be one of seven state title games, including three each on Friday and Saturday, all at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Massillon Washington (14-0) will play Cincinnati La Salle (12-2) in the opener at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Joining Trotwood in the title hunt is Anna and Marion Local of the Midwest Athletic Conference. Top-ranked Anna (13-1) will play No. 2 New Middletown Springfield (14-0) for the D-V title in the 10 a.m. Friday opener. No. 1 Marion Local (12-2) is matched against Lucas (12-2) in the D-VII opener on Saturday, also at 10 a.m.
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Located in Richland County near Interstate 71 and about halfway between Columbus and Cleveland, Mansfield Senior rewrote its record book. The Tygers previously had won just two playoff games and are playing in their first championship.
Mansfield Senior has three NCAA D-I commits. Receiver and Mr. Football candidate Angelo Grose is headed to Michigan State University. Defenders Clay Caudill (Toledo) and Anthony Hawkins (Bowling Green) also are committed.
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Grose has 72 catches for 1,002 yards and 11 touchdowns and is a lights-out safety with 112 tackles, including 16 for a loss.
“He’s the kind of player that we have here as well,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said of Grose. “They can affect the game in multiple ways. … That’s the key. We know that and understand that. We got to know where he’s at on every down.”
Bradley is a Mansfield Senior grad and was a football/basketball standout for the Tygers.
• It’ll be a first for Anna and New Middletown Springfield, because neither team has played for a state title before.
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Located 12 miles south of Youngstown close to the Pennsylvania border, Springfield joins Massillon Washington (D-II), Newark Licking Valley (D-IV), Kirtland (D-V) as 14-0 state finalists.
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Springfield sophomore QB Beau Brungard amassed more than 2,000 yards passing, 1,000 yards rushing and 40 touchdowns to light up the Mahoning Valley Conference. His father Mark Brungard was Youngstown State’s starting QB on two national champion Penguins teams in 1993-94 under then-coach Jim Tressel and is Springfield’s offensive coordinator.
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Anna is the first Shelby County team to play for a football state title. The Rockets are charter members of the Shelby County Athletic League and are in the MAC for football only.
Anna’s high-powered offense is generated by senior running back Riley Huelskamp (2,505 yards rushing and 41 TDs) and senior quarterback Bart Bixler (1,359 yards rushing, 1,533 yards passing and 41 total scores).
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A relatively young program, the Rockets fielded their first varsity team in 2000. Anna’s head coach is Nick Marino, previously Urbana’s head coach.
• Marion Local is in a familiar spot. The Flyers of Maria Stein in Mercer County are making their ninth consecutive state-title appearance after losing to Kirtland in the D-VI title game last season. Both teams were affected by the Ohio High School Competitive Balance initiative: Kirtland moving up to D-V and Marion Local down to D-VII.
Marion Local has played for 13 state titles since 2000, winning 10 and all with Tim Goodwin as head coach.
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Flyers receiver Charles Huelsman had 238 yards receiving and three scores – by halftime – of the 40-6 blowout of Hamler Patrick Henry in last week’s state semifinals.. He finished with seven catches for 250 yards receiving. Marion Local QB Kyle Muhlenkamp benefited from all that production, completing 10 of 12 passes for 289 yards and three scores.
In contrast is Lucas, an independent program and public school in Richland County about seven miles southeast of Mansfield. It’s the first time for the Cubs to play for a football state title and are led by coach Scott Spitler.
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“If you run any kind of football program in the state of Ohio, your goal is to emulate the quality of program (Goodwin) has built and the style of football that is played in the MAC,” said Spitler.
It will be a major test for the Flyers to stop the run: Lucas runs a wing-T offense that has accounted for 4,000-plus rushing yards. Senior running back Tommy Zirzow has 1,700-plus rushing yards and junior Ethan Sauder also owns more than 1,000 yards rushing.
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Lucas stunned Canal Winchester Harvest Prep 15-12 in the final minute of last week’s state semi on a rare pass play the Cubs had never ran before and didn’t have a name for.
• Four area players were named first-team All-Ohio D-IV and seven area players were named D-V All-Ohio first team by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association on Monday.
Area D-IV first-team players were Kenton Ridge senior quarterback Dylan Leman, defensive linemen Noah Harrison of Valley View, a senior, and Northwestern senior Korbin Spencer, and Eaton senior linebacker Jarod Lee.
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Shawnee and Greenon each had two players on the D-V first team. Making it for Shawnee were senior quarterback Robie Blass and senior running back Matt Guyer. Greenon junior QB Cade Rice also was first team as was teammate Nathan Hawks, a junior kicker.
Also on the D-V first team defense was West Liberty-Salem senior lineman Kyle Wolfe and Middletown Madison senior safety Connor Blaylock.
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The All-Ohio Divisions VI and VII teams were announced on Sunday. The Divisions I, II and III teams will be announced later this week as will Ohio’s Mr. Football.
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