The St. Vincent-St. Mary football team might find its equal for the first time this season tonight when it meets Trotwood-Madison in the Division III state championship game.
The Fighting Irish (14-0) finished the season No. 1 in the final Associated Press Division III state poll and have routinely dispatched teams by wide margins en route to what could be their second state title in a row.
St. V-M had to work last week to beat Columbus Marion-Franklin 17-9 and should be in for a tough game at 7 p.m. today against the Trotwood-Madison Rams (11-2) at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.
Trotwood-Madison, a 54-7 winner over Clyde last week, is in the playoffs for the ninth time since the postseason started in 1972.
Coach Maurice Douglass, a former NFL player with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, has guided the Rams to a Division II state title in 2011 and state runner-up showings in Division in 2012 and 2010. The three state finals were played in Massillon.
“Trotwood-Madison, I could say right now is probably the best team we have played all year,” St. V-M coach Dan Boarman said. “They are big, very athletic, and their offense scares me a little bit. They are very explosive, and I know they are going to come after us. Defensively, they are much like last week — a very athletic defense that runs real well.”
Sophomore quarterback Messiah DeWeaver leads the offense for Trotwood-Madison, which opened the season with two losses (one by forfeit after the usage of an ineligible player in a blowout). Senior Marc Raye-Redmond and junior Breland Cospy are elusive running backs, and senior Kendric Mallory and junior Ryan Lucas are talented wide receivers. The Rams also have a huge offensive line with seniors Clem Vinegar and John Lewis and junior Brice Hinton weighing more than 300 pounds.
“They have got the whole package,” Boarman said. “They can run and throw the ball. They have several fine wide receivers, a quarterback, who is just a sophomore that can deliver the ball, and then a fine running game.”
Defensively, the Rams are led by senior linemen Ryan Reese and Verondtae Wilkinson, junior linebacker Kevin Turpin, junior back Kei Beckham and safety Kieran Winn.
“We are excited about the opportunity to get back to our home-away-from-home, Massillon, Ohio,” said Douglass, who was a senior on Trotwood-Madison’s 1981 team that was Division II state runner-up. “Our team this year is a group, that this will be their 59th game as far as our senior class is concerned. It is a group that is well traveled the last four years. We have a great group of kids who have done a good job.”
St. V-M is making its 18th playoff appearance and has won state titles in 2012, 1988, 1982 and 1981 in Division III and in 1972 in Class AA.
The Irish feature a bevy of talented seniors — running back Parris Campbell Jr., linebacker Dante Booker Jr., quarterback Aaron Bushner, linebacker-running back Newman Williams, defensive back Nate Bischof and defensive linemen Travonte Junius, Aaron Adkins and Tony Adkins.
“I will tell you what, they are loaded. I wish I could have some of that Bron-Bron money coming in because they have got some players out there,” Douglass said with a laugh in reference to LeBron James. “Bron-Bron money has helped them out a lot, but no they have a really, really talented group of kids. You can tell that they spend a lot of time together in the offseason because of the continuity that is there when they go the wildcat package. You can usually find a glitch here or there, but when they are in the wildcat package it is no different than when they are in a shotgun spread.”
The Irish offensive line has been steady all season with seniors Alec Bianchi, Joe Morrison, Zac Rouser and Derek Whiddon and juniors Jeremy Swords and Sam Yeaton.
“They are a very good team, well coached and they have some good playmakers on the perimeter, starting with the running back, Parris Campbell,” Douglass said.