Trotwood-Madison looking to ‘Finish’ unbeaten season with state title

Trotwood DB Jashawn Young. Trotwood-Madison defeated Toledo Central Catholic 16-7 in a D-III high school football state semifinal at Piqua on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
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Trotwood DB Jashawn Young. Trotwood-Madison defeated Toledo Central Catholic 16-7 in a D-III high school football state semifinal at Piqua on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

A date with high school football history awaits Trotwood-Madison. It did, too, this time last year. Now, that’s a sore reminder of what might have been.

Top-ranked Trotwood (14-0) will look to fulfill its season-long “Finish” goal in the Division III state championship. All the Rams have to do is pass a final test against upstart Dresden Tri-Valley (13-1) at Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium at 8 p.m. Saturday. That will be the last of seven divisional titles decided over three days at the sprawling new complex.

State championship history mostly has not been kind to the Rams. Trotwood played in four straight state title games from 2010-13 at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Only the perfect 2011 team finished, going 15-0 and winning a D-II crown, Trotwood’s only football state title. There was another Trotwood state runner-up season in 1981.

Last season was more of the disappointing same, a 30-0 wipeout administered by Akron Archbishop Hoban in a D-III title showdown at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. And just like this year, Trotwood eliminated mighty Toledo Central Catholic in a state semifinal to advance.

“I think we might have been overconfident because we had just stopped Mr. Ohio (football, running back Michael Warren) at TCC,” reflected Rams coach Jeff Graham during a statewide media conference call this week.

“Our older kids and the kids who are seniors now remember that situation. That’s what catapulted them to come into this season and the offseason and have a plan and a goal. This is what we’re going to do and just be overly prepared.”

Trotwood has everything going for it that Tri-Valley doesn’t: Deep playoff tradition (eight straight state semifinals), championship-game experience (it will be the Rams’ sixth), an all-world running back (senior Ra’veion Hargrove has 7,000-plus career rushing yards) and a shutdown defense (a 692-164 scoring advantage and seven games of allowing seven points or less).

It’s the first championship game appearance for Tri-Valley, located near Zanesville. The Scotties rallied to win all three previous playoff games and are the first Muskingum Valley League team to play for a title since 1987.

“We’ve seen a lot of teams formationally that are similar to Trotwood, but we haven’t seen anybody who does it with those types of players,” Tri-Valley coach Justin Buttermore said. “They obviously are an incredibly talented team, maybe the most talented team in the state regardless of division. We know what we’re up against. Certainly, they provide a little different challenge than what we’ve faced.”

MAC attack: Minster overwhelmed Cuyahoga Heights 32-7 in Friday's opener to win a D-VII title. That was the first of four games involving area teams.

Defending state champ Marion Local (14-0), the other Midwest Athletic Conference rep, plays Kirtland (14-0) in Saturday’s D-VI opener at 10 a.m. It’s the only No. 1 (Marion Local) vs. No. 2 (Kirtland) showdown. It’s the sixth state title appearance in seven seasons for Kirtland, which edged Marion Local 22-20 in the 2015 D-VI title game.

Mighty Massie: Clinton-Massie (13-1) is looking to add to its 2012-13 title teams against top-ranked Steubenville (14-0) in the D-IV championship at 3 p.m. Saturday. Steubenville has multiple state-title appearances, but has lost championship games the last two seasons.

Akron Archbishop Hoban 42, Cin. Winton Woods 14: Hoban connected on a 73-yard touchdown pass on its first play from scrimmage and returned a blocked punt for another score less than two minutes into Thursday night's D-II championship opener. All the scoring occurred in the first half.

It was the third straight state title for Hoban (14-1), which previously won consecutive D-III state titles. It was Winton Woods’ (13-2) first state title appearance since winning the D-II championship in 2009.

TV coverage: All seven state title games have and will be aired lived on Spectrum cable channels 99, 311 and 1311. Check the Spectrum daily listings for replays.

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