Trotwood-Madison players fell to their knees in jubilation. They tossed their helmets and cried uncontrollably. Hugs were plentiful. Rams coaches celebrated with each other and players, then watched in awe. So did their vocal fans.
And why not? That’s what happens when your favorite high school football team etches another state-title chapter into an already storied athletics history.
»» PHOTOS: Trotwood-Madison wins third state title
Trotwood rallied in the final quarter, dodged disaster, then stunned upstart Mansfield Senior 14-7 in overtime to win a Division III high school football state championship at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Friday night.
Trotwood senior Sammy Anderson caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Keon’tae Huguely on 4th-and-8 in OT. He matched that with a game-ending interception.
“This is all we’ve been talking about,” said Anderson, also a returning starter from last season’s D-II boys basketball state title team. “He had just thrown to me, but it was over my head. He came back to me and we did it. We just fought adversity.”
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Both Anderson and Huguely emerged from a final scrum in the end zone from Mansfield’s following possession and fourth-down OT heave. When officials finally signaled Mansfield’s pass was incomplete, the Rams’ celebration was on.
“We have great senior leadership and this is a resilient team,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said among jubilant on-field backslaps and congratulations. “This team has been through a lot of things this season and it showed in the second half.”
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It was the third football state championship by the Rams (12-3) to go with another D-III title in 2017 and a D-II championship in 2011. Trotwood has been a state runner-up five times.
It also was like no other Trotwood season. The community had been rocked by a wave of deadly tornadoes last Memorial Day. That had a huge impact on the team and ultimately united the Rams, both in workouts and community clean-up efforts.
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Trotwood also has dealt with the continuing fallout and sting of being voted out of the Greater Western Ohio Conference. That was after being shunned by the restart of the offshoot Miami Valley League. The Rams were an unwanted state power and had something to prove. Did they ever.
It was a clutch – albeit unlikely – ending for the Rams, who lost their opener to Cincinnati power Winton Woods, then was swept by Springboro and Springfield in the last two weeks of the regular season. However, Ohio High School Athletic Association history awaited the Rams and they delivered.
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Scoreless at halftime, both defenses were locked in shut-down mode. It was just the fourth scoreless halftime of a state title game since the playoffs began in 1972.
That changed less than three minutes into the second half when Terrance Flickinger of Mansfield (13-2) bolted 94 untouched yards for a touchdown. It was a stunning dash, especially since neither team had shown any previous offensive life.
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That followed Trotwood’s best chance to score on its previous possession when Huguely raced 40 yards for an apparent touchdown. However, the play was nullified by a Rams’ holding penalty. Trotwood eventually punted and Flinkinger scored on the Tygers’ first play.
Ke’Shawn Huguely, Keon’tae’s senior twin, pulled the teams even at 7-all with a 14-yard TD dash midway through the fourth quarter. The Rams were in position to win after stalling on Mansfield’s 2 with three seconds left. However, Carter Mims’ 20-yard field goal attempt banged into the middle of the line to force overtime.
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On offense first in OT, Trotwood appeared to have squandered its possession, then Keon’tae Huguely lofted a perfect rainbow strike to Anderson in the corner of the end zone. This time Mims converted a similar extra-point kick to put Trotwood up 14-7. Even better, Anderson wasn’t done.
Mansfield flubbed two straight hikes and lost 27 yards. Having retreated to midfield, Mansfield tried that final unsuccessful desperation heave. Anderson soared above converging Mansfield and Trotwood players and secured a title-clinching interception.
»» RELATED: Anna eliminates Mechanicsburg in state semi
“I told you we were going to get back here,” said Keon’tae Huguely, proudly holding the state-title trophy. “It feels great. It’s unbelievable that we could do this for our community.”
»» PHOTOS: Anna vs. Mechanicsburg, state semi
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