New-look Rams level Mount Healthy

The Rams’ formidable football program was beset by injuries, a top-shelf early schedule and struggled to find a passable quarterback.

All of that was distant aches and pains following Friday night’s 48-0 detonation of host Mount Healthy in a Division II, Region 8 high school football playoff opener.

“I like this team,” gushed Rams head coach Maurice Douglass. “I told them that I thought this is our best team since I’ve been here.”

It was as thorough of a beat down that Trotwood (9-2) had delivered in awhile. The unstoppable running game that served Trotwood so well in the 2011 title game was back. So was the shut-down defense. Mount Healthy didn’t get past the 50 until the fourth quarter, had just four first downs and 89 yards offense.

There were many more Rams’ bright lights:

  • Senior defensive end Jarrod Clements was unstoppable. The only thing that previously had checked him was knee surgery last summer to repair a torn ACL. His addition four games ago was sorely needed since regular Tre Williams-Brown is out following surgery to repair a knee that buckled in an equally gruesome setback to University, Fla., in the season opener. With Clements on one side and Verontae Wilkinson on the other, good luck picking an edge to attack.
  • Senior running back Israel Green (119 yards, three touchdowns) transformed into a familiar sight. He gashed the Owls’ defense like a runaway tank, often carrying multiple defenders for extra yardage.
  • Ashton Jackson, slowed by a preseason hamstring pull, is clicking (177 yards, two TDs). His first carry went for a 70-yard score. Combined, Green and Jackson are a devastating blend of backfield power and speed.
  • The most welcome new wrinkle is the emergence of freshman quarterback Messiah DeWeaver (9 of 19, 155 yards, two scores and no picks). Cool under fire, he’s the third to be handed the position.

“I call him the black Tom Brady,” said Douglass.

Realistically, this mismatch was over after senior corner Reon Dawson snuffed the Owls’ opening possession with an interception. Their next possession ended in a Cameron Burrows fumble recovery. By halftime it was 28-zip.

Mount Healthy (9-2) won the inaugural Southwest Ohio Conference title. The Owls yielded just 67 points in regular season. Pressed, the Rams could have surpassed that.

In the D-II playoffs three of the last four seasons, Healthy never figured out what was ailing it most, a healthy Trotwood.

Next up for Trotwood is Winton Woods, which drilled Edgewood 50-7 also on Friday.

The Rams must win four more games to match last season’s D-II state title team.

“Thirteen-and-two sounds good to me,” said Douglass.

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