Trotwood-Madison returns to postseason form: “We had a lot to prove”

Deep high school football playoff runs are ingrained in players at Trotwood-Madison High School. That’s why last season’s one-and-done anomaly didn’t set well with the Rams.

“We had a lot to prove,” assured senior all-everything standout Keon’tae Huguely.

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Trotwood (10-3) finds itself back in a state semifinal comfort zone on Friday against mighty Columbus Bishop Hartley (12-1) at London’s Bowlus Field. At stake is a spot in next week’s Division III state championship.

This is the ninth time in the last 10 seasons Trotwood has advanced this far into the postseason. Hartley can match that success with nine state semi appearances, including six since 2010.

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Trotwood lost to Springboro (9-2) and Springfield (12-1) to end the regular season. The Rams KO’ed Western Buckeye League reps Wapakoneta and St. Marys Memorial and eliminated Hamilton Badin 20-7 last week at Miamisburg.

Last season Wapak defeated Trotwood 24-21 in the first round.

“Every year, we set our goals, personal and team,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said. “Our team goal is always to want to eat Thanksgiving dinner together.”

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That’s also part of the tradition football tradition, which the Rams will do once again after practice on Thursday. Trotwood has won two state titles, going 15-0 in 2011 to win a D-II championship and also going 15-0 for a D-III title in 2017.

“We prepare in January when ain’t nobody looking,” Graham said. “We tell our guys, listen, this is where championships and tradition and legacies start. It starts now and in late November is when you can eat your dessert. That’s how we try to get the kids to leave their legacy, especially these seniors.”

Huguely came on in relief of injured Rams starter Cooper Stewart against Badin. He had 60 yards rushing and lofted a 69-yard touchdown pass to Carl Blanton Jr. to break a third-quarter tie. Blanton also had a 78-yard scoring reception from Cooper to open scoring in the third quarter after a scoreless first half.

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“This means everything,” said Huguely, who also provides a major defensive impact at linebacker. “I’m already an experienced quarterback. Teams may not know that, but I can throw that ball and run, so they got to pick that poison. If they go back in coverage, I’m running that ball. If they’re crashing, we’re going to throw that ball.”

All the state semifinals are at 7 p.m. this weekend. The winners advance to the Week 15 state championships at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton on Dec. 5-7.

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Other Friday area games:

• Springfield (12-1) vs. Cincinnati Elder (11-2), D-I at Piqua Alexander Stadium: The program record-setting Wildcats join Trotwood as GWOC reps. This is the deepest Springfield has advanced in the postseason, including North and South.

Springfield sophomore QB Te’Sean Smoot has thrown for 2,290 yards and 18 touchdowns. Senior Jeff Tolliver has rushed for 1,246 yards and 19 TDs. Tay’Veon Smoot, Te’Sean’s cousin, has 803 yards rushing and 11 TDs. Senior receiver Larry Stephens has been the perfect complement to that running game with 51 catches for 1,054 yards (20.7) and 11 TDs. He’s verbally committed to Toledo.

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Elder has been to the state semis five times, the last in 2009. The game will be televised live on Spectrum News 1.

• Anna (12-1) vs. Mechanicsburg (11-2), D-VI at Wapakoneta Harmon Field. Led by seniors running back Riley Huelskamp and QB Bart Bixler, Anna is the latest to represent the Midwest Athletic Conference this deep into the postseason. They have accounted for more than 50 touchdowns in the Rockets’ high-powered offense. Anna hasn’t scored less than 42 points in its wins. Its only loss was 17-14 to Marion Local in Week 5.

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Mechanicsburg sophomore two-way standout Sophomore Jake Hurst had four TDs, 13 tackles a fumble recovery and blocked two extra-point kicks in last week’s defeat of Covington. The game will be streamed live at free for Spectrum subscribers.

Saturday’s area game:

• Marion Local (11-2) vs. Hamler Patrick Henry (10-3), D-VII at Lima Senior Spartan Stadium. The MAC power Flyers had a rare two-loss regular season and will be heavily favored to appear in their ninth straight state title game.

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Marion Local eliminated another MAC surprise in New Bremen last week, 27-0. This game also will be streamed live on free for Spectrum subscribers.

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