By Michael Beaven
Beacon Journal sports writer
MASSILLON: The St. Vincent-St. Mary football team is No. 1 in the state for the second consecutive year in Division III.
St. V-M defeated Trotwood-Madison 24-0 Thursday night in the rain at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The title is the Fighting Irish’s sixth in football.
Several St. V-M seniors made sure to finish off the perfect 15-0 season by dispatching Rams (11-3), including University of Akron recruits Newman Williams and Travonte Junius and Ohio State recruits Dante Booker Jr. and Parris Campbell Jr.
Williams rushed for two touchdowns, recovered a fumble and ran for a first down on a fake punt. He lined up at linebacker and running back and was key in the dominating performance, which earned the Irish their 21st win in a row.
Senior Evan Cunningham kicked a 36-yard field goal with 2:27 to go in the first quarter to give St. V-M a 3-0 lead. The Irish drive featured a 44-yard pass play from senior quarterback Aaron Bushner to Booker and a 14-yard run by Bushner.
The Irish defense forced two turnovers in the first half with senior Nathan Bischof snagging an interception and Booker recovering a fumble. Seniors Williams, Aaron Adkins, Tony Adkins and Travonte Junius and junior Dre’k Brumley consistently tackled Rams ball carriers for either no yardage or minimal yardage.
The Booker fumble recovery on the Trotwood-Madison 29 led to points as Williams ran for a 1-yard touchdown and Cunningham converted the point after to make it 10-0 with 5:56 remaining in the second quarter. Junior Vince Lockett ran for 8-yards two plays prior to Williams touchdown.
The third quarter featured five turnovers and seven points for St. V-M. Junius tipped a pass and then caught the ball out of the air for an interception at the 4:50 mark inside the Trotwood-Madison 10-yard line. Five seconds later, Williams rushed for an 8-yard touchdown and Cunningham kicked a point after to make it 17-0.
Williams also had a fumble recovery in the third quarter and Lockett intercepted a pass. Rams senior Kieran Winn recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass in the third. Senior Tyler Glover forced the fumble Winn recovered.
The Irish lead grew to 24-0 when Lockett rushed for a 1-yard touchdown with 9:21 to go in the fourth quarter and Cunningham kicked the point after. Williams had a big play on the drive with a 28-yard run on the fake punt on a 4th down.
Campbell rushed for 58 yards on 18 carries. Bushner completed 3-of-10 passes for 56 yards. The Irish offensive line unit of seniors Alec Bianchi, Joe Morrison, Zac Rouser and Derek Whiddon and juniors Jeremy Swords and Sam Yeaton was solid all evening.
St. V-M’s defense was stingy all night and limited Trotwood-Madison sophomore quarterback Messiah Deweaver, who completed 9-of-25 passes for 84 yards and rushed for -12 yards on five carries.
Irish seniors Corey Whaley and Jarel Woolridge and sophomore Tyrece Speaight covered Rams receivers effectively on a majority of Deweaver’s pass attempts.
This was St. V-M’s 18th playoff appearance since the postseason started in 1972 and the Irish’s sixth state title (2012, 1988, 1982 and 1981 in Division III and 1972 in Class AA).