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One wouldn’t guess that an Ohio Division III state semifinal game between a public school from the greater Dayton area and a private school from Toledo would have great story lines but this one does.
These two teams haven’t missed a beat moving down a level after dominating runs in Division II. They met for the state title in the DII two seasons ago. Toledo Central Catholic won, 16-12.
One program has risen under its veteran coach as Toledo Central Catholic has built a great foundation under head coach Greg Dempsey. He led the Fighting Irish to Division II state titles in 2005 and 2012. Dempsey is 143-38 since becoming head coach in 2000.
Jeff Graham took over the reins at Trotwood-Madison after former Rams alum Maurice Douglas took the once mediocre school to great prosperity during his 14-year tenure. Graham was the Rams offensive coordinator in their four consecutive previous trips to the state title game.
There are no common foes but there is one common thread and that is “Clyde the glide.” Toledo Catholic Central beat Clyde to get to this game. Trotwood-Madison took down Clyde last season in Regional semifinals (this round) to advance on and face Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary for the state title.
Private vs. public: It doesn’t matter how or who you are just do it right and get it done. Success will take care of itself with hard work and both of these schools are testaments to that hard work.
TOLEDO CENTRAL CATHOLIC FIGHTING IRISH (11-2) at TROTWOOD-MADISON RAMS (12-1)
Kickoff: Friday, November 21st @ 7:30 p.m.at Sidney Memorial Stadium
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PLAYERS TO WATCH: Injuries have hampered the fluidity of the Trotwood-Madison backfield throughout the year. The Rams now appear healthy and have a three-headed monster with Breland Cospy, Dontay White and freshman Raveon Hargrove sharing the carries and staying fresh late in contests. Cospy has back-to-back games with 100 or more yards rushing. Quarterback Messiah DeWeaver was a freshman in the loss to TCC two seasons ago. He went 2-for-11 for 12 yards with a touchdown pass and minus-39 yards rushing in that defeat. DeWeaver has been under center for two state title games without a victory but does have 11 playoff wins as a starter.
On defense, the linebacking crew of Kevin Turpin, Ferod Gardner and Vance Byrd doesn’t get nearly enough credit as a unit. Turpin has a team high 10 1/2 sacks including three in the playoffs.
There is great senior leadership for Toledo Central Catholic. Colin Kaucher was named the 2014 Division III Northwest District defensive player of the year. On the line, the 305-pound Christian Ward is a load to handle for opposing offenses. Classmates linebacker Charles Smith and secondary specialist Stephon Campbell are quality athletes who compliment Kaucher and Ward extremely well.
The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Ramone Miles was named the 2014 Division III Northwest District offensive lineman of the year. He has paved the way for exciting backfield mates in sophomore running back Michael Warren and junior Tre’Von Wade. Since the beginning of October, the Fighting Irish have averaged 43.6 points in their seven contests.
TEAM TRENDS: The Trotwood-Madison defense has forced 38 turnovers (14 fumble recoveries, 24 interceptions) this season. The Rams have scored 15 touchdowns on the takeaways with four scoop and score fumble recoveries and 11 pick sixes.
TROTWOOD-MADISON’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Rams can’t squander opportunities and make unforced errors like they fell prone to last week vs. Wapakoneta. The Fighting Irish are disciplined and opportunistic enough to capitalize on Trotwood-Madison miscues. Good teams have put up points on TolCath so getting a quick lead will help the T-Mad defense establish pressure.
TOLCATH’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The fewer times the Irish put the ball in the air, the better their chances of coming out on top. Establishing the run will keep Trotwood’s secondary from getting involved in the contest. When the Rams' defensive backfield gets a shot at making plays, it is usually a big-time game changer and does it on a very frequent basis. If this contest comes down to the kicking game, Toledo Catholic Central has a huge edge.
Prediction: TROTWOOD-MADISON 31, TOLEDO CENTRAL CATHOLIC 24
Greg is a co-founder of TSF and is now entering his ninth season as a Featured Analyst for the website. The Xavier University grad also serves as the Content Manager for the website and is widely considered one of the top high school football experts in the region. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.