Trotwood-Madison should have changed its team nickname to the Cats this postseason. The Rams have had a feline-like quality being able to survive with their nine lives. Three weeks ago they outlasted Winton Woods in an overtime affair. Last Friday night it was a 27-yard game-winning field goal attempt by New Albany that sailed wide right with less than 30 seconds to go that enabled T-Mad to advance. The margin of error against Toledo Central Catholic will be even slimmer as the Rams look to bring home their second straight state championship.
TROTWOOD-MADISON (12-2) vs. TOLEDO CENTRAL CATHOLIC FIGHTING IRISH (13-1)
Site: Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Massillon High School
Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Isreal Green will go down as one of Ohio's top all-time players when it comes to post-season performances. The T-Mad senior went hog wild in the championship game against Avon last season running for 326 yards and six touchdowns. For his career, Green has 1,646 yards and 22 touchdowns rushing, including scoring in 10 straight playoff games. When Green needs a blow, it's Ashton Jackson who replaces him. Freshman quarterback Messiah DeWeaver has been rock solid with seven touchdown passes and just two interceptions in four post-season tilts. Mike McCray and Cameron Burrows anchor a Rams defense that is loaded with college talent. McCray was named the Division II Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week. They will need prospects Jerrod Clements, Ryan Reese and Verondtae Wilkinson to step up on the line and not cave in to the Fighting Irish offensive attack.
The TCC offense is loaded with athletes at the skill positions. Running back Amir Edwards has 1,600 yards rushing on the season. Louisville-bound tight end Keith Towbridge is going to make for a great watch up against McCray and Burrows. Quarterback DeShone Kizer is a Second-Team All-Ohio performer. Offensive linemen Jeff Dew and Zach Harmon were First-Team All-District selections. Defensively, lineman Jon Perrin was the District Defensive Player of the Year. In the secondary Jayme Thompson and Mitch Cochell could give Weaver and his young receivers fits. Don't expect sure-footed kicker Jake Suder to miss putting points on the board.
TEAM TRENDS: This is the ninth consecutive and 14th overall playoff appearance and second trip to the finals for TCC. The Fighting Irish won it all in 2005. Trotwood-Madison is looking for back-to-back state titles and is making their third straight trip and fourth overall to the final game. Since their freshman season, the Trotwood-Madison seniors have made four appearances in the regional finals, including three consecutive Region 8 titles. They have won 39 games the past three seasons. They have compiled a 48-9 mark since walking onto campus. In that span they have never lost to a Division II team that hasn't won the state title (Winton Woods '09 and Maple Heights ‘10).
TROTWOOD-MADISON'S KEYS TO VICTORY: The defense needs to get their act together after giving up 309 yards rushing to much smaller New Albany team up front last weekend. The Fighting Irish have the athletes to make the Rams pay for being lazy and not bringing their best effort on every down. The T-Mad offense will rely on the backfield of Green and Jackson to pick up the tough yards as they have been through this experience before.
TOLEDO CENTRAL CATHOLIC'S KEYS TO VICTORY: Putting Trotwood-Madison into third-and-long situations will be the focus for the Irish. Making the Rams' freshman quarterback beat them up top instead of Green and Jackson gnawing away yards on the ground will keep TCC around this affair until the bitter end.
PREDICTION: TROTWOOD-MADISON 27, TOLEDO CENTRAL CATHOLIC 24
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