Trotwood-Madison’s road to Massillon wasn’t the smoothest.
The Rams had little room for error after losing two of their first three games to nationally ranked University (Fla.) and Huber Heights Wayne.
They were forced to change quarterbacks twice during the regular season.
Once they survived and made the playoffs, they encountered a few close calls.
Despite all that, the Rams are in a position to repeat as champions.
Trotwood-Madison will face Toledo Central Catholic in Friday’s 7 p.m. Division II state championship game at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Rams beat Avon 42-28 last year to win their first state high school football title after finishing as runner-up in 2010.
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“This season has been one of the funnest seasons, but it also has been one of the harder ones,” Trotwood-Madison head coach Maurice Douglass said. “Their work ethic, they’re relentless as far as getting after it in the weight room, in the classroom as well as on the football field. It’s just a group of kids I love being around.”
Finding a new quarterback to replace 2011 Division II Offensive Player of the Year Michael Simpson was Douglass’ biggest challenge.
Andre Foster opened the season as the starter, but was injured in the Week 3 loss to Wayne. Kendric Mallory moved from receiver to quarterback and was the starter for about a month.
The emergence of freshman Messiah DeWeaver late in the season has stabilized the position.
“Messiah is one of the hardest working kids we’ve had,” Douglass said. “... He already had watched all 15 games we had last year coming into the weight room in January. He already had a good idea of what we want to do offensively.
“Having the opportunity to go out there and play is a little different. I believe he could have started the first game, but that University team had a minimum 20 guys going Division I on it. You don’t want to put that kid in that type of situation.”
The Rams also have a lot of NCAA Division I talent.
Linebacker Michael McCray, Ohio’s Division II Defensive Player of the Year, is going to Michigan. Cornerbacks Cameron Burrows and Reon Dawson have committed to Ohio State and Illinois, respectively. Defensive end Jarrod Clements is also heading to Illinois. Center Cody Collins has committed to Marshall.
The Fighting Irish also must contend with Isreal Green, who rushed for 327 yards on 35 carries and six touchdowns in last year’s win over Avon. He set an all divisions record for rushing touchdowns and a Division II record for rushing yards in a state championship game.
“They are an elite team when it comes to talent,” Central Catholic head coach Greg Dempsey said. “... They have game breakers on offense, and on defense they have a huge front and great cover corners. This is a very good football team.”
gkohntopp 11/28/12 This can be tacked to the bottom of the FNO story “Trotwood-Madison took bumpy road to Div. II titel game”
TOLEDO CENTRAL CATHOLIC (13-1)
HEAD COACH Greg Dempsey
STATE TITLES 1
STATE FINAL APPEARANCES 2
PLAYOFF RECORD 13-12
ROAD TO MASSILLON Defeated Grafton Midview 50-7, Mansfield Madison 45-7, Avon 42-14 and Aurora 20-13.
KEEP AN EYE ON Senior NT Jon Perrin is a two-time first team All-Ohioan who has recorded 41 tackles and two sacks. DB Jayme Thompson, an Ohio State recruit, has 37 tackles and one interception. The offense is led by Amir Edwards, who has rushed for 1,284 yards and 22 touchdowns. QB DeShone Kizer has thrown for 1,240 yards and 14 TDs. The line is anchored by C Jeff Dew.
NOTABLE The Fighting Irish won Toledo’s most recent state championship in 2005 when they defeated Canfield 31-29. It is one of only three state titles won by a Toledo team.
TROTWOOD-MADISON RAMS (12-2)
HEAD COACH Maurice Douglass
STATE TITLES 1
STATE FINAL APPEARANCES 4
PLAYOFF RECORD 18-6
ROAD TO MASSILLON Defeated Cincinnati Mt. Healthy 48-0, Cincinnati Winton Woods 27-20 in OT, Cincinnati Turpin 42-14 and New Albany 33-32.
KEEP AN EYE ON LB Michael McCray is Ohio’s Division II Defensive Player of the Year and one of several NCAA Division I recruits on Trotwood-Madison’s roster. He is committed to Michigan. The Rams defense is also led by CBs Cameron Burrows (Ohio State) and Reon Dawson (Illinois) and DE Jarrod Clements. Isreal Green ran for a Division II championship game record 327 yards and an all divisions title game record six TDs last year against Avon.
NOTABLE Douglas, a 1982 Trotwood-Madison graduate, played safety in the NFL for 11 seasons. He was selected by the Chicago Bears in the eighth round of the 1986 draft and spent nine seasons in Chicago. He closed out his career with the New York Giants from 1994-95.