Its offense humming and the defense in lights-out mode, undefeated Trotwood-Madison was a heavy favorite to win out and capture a Division III high school state football championship.
And it would be on the Rams’ defense to make that happen.
That overwhelming cruise control was off by a state semifinal 16-7 defeat of playoff nemesis Toledo Central Catholic at Piqua. It took a goal-line interception by junior linebacker Jayvanare Nelloms in the final seconds to secure a title-clinching 27-19 defeat of Dresden Tri-Valley at the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium last Saturday night.
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Nelloms raced 30 yards with the clutch catch toward Trotwood’s sideline. He tumbled into the Rams’ bench area, then was mobbed by teammates. The Rams cheerfully dove and shoved their way into a spontaneous celebration stack, Nelloms at the bottom. It was his first INT of the season.
“It’s a blessing,” Nelloms gushed afterward. “I was like, man, I better catch this so I can seal the game. I made the catch and got a few yards and that was it. It feels good. We worked hard for this and got it.”
A 5-foot-9, 185-pound junior inside LB, Nelloms led the Rams with 74 combined tackles this season and had a season-high 13 the week before against TCC. Senior defensive end James Parker had 70 tackles and a season-high 12 vs. Tri-Valley (13-2).
Kennedy Coates, a 5-10, 194-pound junior paired with Nelloms in the middle, was third in season tackles (41) and had 10 vs. TCC. Strong safety Taron Britt, another junior, had a season-high seven stops vs. Tri-Valley. Junior DT Javen Medley also was a factor up front.
Trotwood will have to replace All-World senior running back Ra’veion Hargrove and senior QB Markell Stephens-Peppers next season among others, but the defense has a great returning core to build around.
»JAYVANARE NELLOMS’ GAME-SAVING INT SEQUENCE