Trotwood-Madison has been in football-playoff mode since early in the season after a forfeit put the Rams at 0-2.
To be sure, coaches reminded the Rams what the goal was: Win out.
“The kids knew that they couldn’t afford any lapses along the way,” Trotwood coach Maurice Douglass said during Monday’s statewide conference call. “We’ve been on a playoff mentality since Week 3.”
Trotwood (11-2) carried that out and will take an 11-game win streak into Thursday’s 7 p.m. Division III state final against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (14-0) at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
That’ll be the first of seven state titles games at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium and Massillon. Three more games will be played on Friday and Saturday.
This will be the fourth straight state title game for Trotwood and, like last season, the Rams didn’t clinch a playoff spot until after the regular-season finale. The Rams knocked out Clyde 54-7 in last week’s state semifinal.
Akron SVSM is the defending D-III state champ. The Irish bring a 20-game win streak – over two seasons – into the contest. Its most famous alum, LeBron James, remains a passionate and generous Irish fan and donor.
“I wish I could have some of that LeBron money coming in because they got some players,” Douglass said, laughing. “That LeBron money has helped them out a lot.”
Playing on a Thursday just means a short week for Trotwood. The Rams’ playoff games had been anchored on Friday.
“The only thing different is it’s a Thursday instead of Friday,” Douglass said. “It doesn’t really affect us.”
- Coldwater (12-2) will play Columbus Bishop Hartley (13-1) in a rematch of their Week 2 game. The Cavs won that regular-season game 41-16.
That win, and Hartley’s continued success, likely provided enough second-level points for Coldwater to qualify for the playoffs. The Cavs were 8-2 in the regular season and could do no better than a No. 5 seed in Region 16.
- Of the six 2012 state champs, five can repeat. Missing only is Toledo Central Catholic, which beat Trotwood in the 2012 D-II title game. Moeller (D-I), Akron SVSM (D-III), Clinton-Massie (D-IV), Coldwater (D-V) and Marion Local (D-VII) all can repeat.
- This is the 24th – and final – year that championship weekend will be held in Stark County. The games will move to Columbus for 2014-15 and will likely return there afterward.
- In 1972, the first year of the playoffs, there were only Class AAA, AA and A and 12 playoff qualifiers. Thanks to expansion of another division, 224 (of 714) teams qualified for the postseason this year.
- Marion Local (D-VII), Akron SVSM (D-III) and Kirtland (D-VI) have something more in common than playing for state titles. All were regular-season Associated Press poll champions.
- Fox/SportsTime Ohio will televise all the games live. The games can be seen locally on Time Warner Cable Ch. 99.
- Tickets are $8 presale and $10 at the gate. A portion of only presale tickets will be returned to the school.