CJ’s turn to take the Trotwood-Madison challenge

It just keeps getting better in the Division III, Region 12 high school football playoffs.

Like usual, this region was again loaded with mid-sized Southwest District powers. It took a supreme effort just to qualify for that playoff field. Advancing is a bonus.

It wasn’t a stretch to label Trotwood-Madison as the big dog among a bunch that included playoff regulars Alter, Franklin and Dunbar. Unbeaten Trotwood appears every bit a team destined to win a state championship. Besides, the Rams have been to seven straight state semifinals. Good luck getting past that long-running playoff muscle.

But Chaminade Julienne? Welcome to the party.

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»STATE POLL CHAMPS: Trotwood-Madison, Marion Local No. 1 in football

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CJ continued to make unlikely program history by outlasting New Richmond 26-21 on Friday night at Monroe. Stumbling into the postseason after being routed 34-6 by Alter in Week 10, CJ (9-3) finds itself in a D-III, Region 12 final against mighty Trotwood (12-0). The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced the Week 13 showdown will be played at Stebbins.

No one on Trotwood’s coaching staff could remember the last time the Rams played CJ in football.

"We'll have to go deep into the archive to find that out," Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said while laughing after a 64-26 semifinal blowout of Dunbar at Butler on Friday.

The closest Trotwood and CJ have ventured since anyone could remember is a 7-on-7 passing tourney and picnic afterward last July.

Their playoff fates were sealed when CJ was bumped up to Division III last spring, mainly due to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s competitive balance initiative that is directed at private schools. It didn’t hurt that CJ turned in a stunning 49-28 first-round defeat of Alter just one week after being blown out by the Knights.

Dayton’s Welcome Stadium would be a perfect fitting for a game of this caliber. The OHSAA just said no because of the Dayton Public Schools’ three-year probation penalty. No playoff game was held at Welcome last season and no postseason game has been played there this year through three rounds.

Regardless of all that, Region 12 is assured of placing an immediate area team in the state semifinals.

“They’re coming off two good victories,” Graham said. “We know we’re in for a battle because that’s a rich tradition they’ve established there. It’s gonna be great for the whole community.”

Here’s five things to know after Friday’s Week 12 regional semifinals:

• What once was a robust seven-team Greater Western Ohio Conference playoff showing is now down to only Trotwood after Centerville (D-I, Region 3) and Sidney (D-II, Region 8) were bounced. Still, it was a banner year for Centerville (10-2). First-year coach Brent Ullery set the bar high for a follow-up campaign next season.

Sidney’s senior class insisted on redirecting a program and making fall Friday nights special again at the Chelby County crossroads. Coach Adam Doenges’ Yellow Jackets (10-2) did just that.

• Valley View might have been the beast of the Southwestern Buckeye League, but it’s unlikely Middletown Madison that’s still playing.

Clinton-Massie handed Valley View its only loss in a D-IV, Region 16 semi at Beavercreek, 28-20. That contest was state-title worthy. Madison followed up its first playoff appearance and defeat of Anna by beating Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy 35-27. That puts the Mohawks (10-2) in a D-V, Region 20 final against West Jefferson (12-0).

• Marion Local (12-0) and Coldwater (9-3) earned a much-anticipated rematch, and that’s the problem. Competitive balance fallout bumped Coldwater down to D-VI, Region 24, same as Marion Local. Until this season, these Midwest Athletic Conference powers were state-final regulars with Coldwater in D-V. Now, another state-title worthy regional final is must-see for MAC patrons. Marion Local won the Week 3 game, 13-7.

• There’s more MAC in D-VII, Region 28. That’s where Minster (8-4) and Delphos St. John’s (8-4) will also have a rematch. Delphos SJ’s won their Week 3 MAC opener, 41-14. That also means the MAC is assured of being represented in two divisions of state semifinals.

• Trotwood is hoping to match its 2011 team that went 15-0 and won a D-II state title, the program’s only championship. How do these two Trotwood teams compare? The current Rams have outscored opponents 632-143 through 12 games, which includes second-half running clocks for most of its games. The 2011 Rams held a 498-183 scoring advantage through 12 games and was before the running clock era.

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