High School Football: Rams could use more cowbell

Trotwood-Madison had an unlikely army of supporters cheering on the Rams during a stunning 36-0 state semifinal defeat of Toledo Central Catholic last Saturday: the St. Marys Memorial High School Cowbell Mafia.

Mostly young adults, the Cowbell Mafia were easy to spot on Trotwood’s side of the stadium. They were the ones in St. Marys letter jackets who led full-throated cheers throughout the Division III contest. They were accompanied by a deafening clang of 12-15 cowbells, usually every play.

It was a sight no one from Trotwood could have expected, not after beating St. Marys in a regional final the week before.

“I got a call on Sunday,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said. “They said, hey, we heard you guys don’t travel well. We would like to get permission from you to come to the game. I said we’d love for you to be there and create all that loud noise. It was a great gesture from them and their community. Our guys talked about it in practice and thought it was awesome.”

Trotwood (12-2) will play defending champ Akron Archbishop Hoban (13-1) for the D-III state championship at 3 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. Joining Trotwood in playing for titles will be Midwest Athletic Conference rivals Coldwater (D-V), Marion Local (D-VI) and Minster (D-VII). All the games will be televised live in Southwest Ohio by Time Warner Cable on channels 1311 (HD), 311 and 99.

The Cowbell Mafia and Rams relationship started the week of that regional showdown at Piqua. The Roughriders invited the Rams to join in a postgame prayer at midfield, no matter the outcome. What transpired was a moving and knee-bent moment with players and coaches from both teams intertwined among each other.

That so impressed the Mafia they decided to boost the Rams’ attendance against TCC at Lima.

St. Marys athletic director Jim Hollman said the Cowbell Mafia debuted last season with a single 12-by-12-inch cowbell. A super-sized 3-by-5 footer was built of sheet metal and pulled by trailer to games. That led to a Cowbell Mafia members signup and many more 12-inch bells.

“It’s been a huge thing for our fan support,” Hollman said. “They were really impressed with how well our game (vs. Trotwood) was played and they wanted to support (Trotwood).”

There was plenty for the Cowbell Mafia to clang about against Central Catholic, beginning with a 70-yard interception that was returned for a first-quarter touchdown by Romello Michaels.

“That’s what sports does,” Graham said. “We’re trying to develop young men in both these programs. We’re improving what we do at Trotwood as far as the athletic department side of it and people are starting to see that. Sometimes sports really gives you a good direction. It was great for both communities to see that.”

Now, just like that famed Saturday Night Live skit, Graham and the Rams could use some more cowbell.

“They were leading our cheers and our fans were jumping in,” he said. “It was a great atmosphere. I told them if you guys want to come up to Columbus, we’d love to have you.”

• Hoban is the defending D-III state champ and will be appearing in its second title game as well. The Knights trailed 14-3 at halftime but rallied to hand Columbus St. Francis DeSales its only loss in the other state semi, 23-14.

Hoban features senior running back Todd Sibley, who’s verbally committed to the University of Pittsburgh, and senior quarterback Danny Clark (Kentucky). Like Trotwood, the Hoban defense has been especially stingy in the second half of games. Its first until has not been scored upon in the third and fourth quarters.

Hoban lost only to two-time defending D-I state champ Lakewood St. Edward.

Hoban grad Tyrell Sutton (’05) is the state’s all-time career rushing leader with 9,426 yards (2001-04). Another famous Hoban grad is former 400-meters world record holder Butch Reynolds.

• Trotwood is working against history. Only two other No. 7 region seeds have won state championships since the playoffs expanded to eight teams per region, Cleveland St. Ignatius in 2001 and Piqua with Mr. Football Brandon Saine in 2006. St. Henry is the only No. 8 seed to win a title (2004).

• The finals being on Thursday when Massillon Perry (12-2) plays two-time defending state champ Cincinnati La Salle (12-2) for the D-II title at 7:30 p.m.

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