Ten years after winning state title at Trotwood-Madison, Douglass seeks title with Springfield

Former Rams cheering for their former coach

Maurice Douglass rarely mentions his years at Trotwood-Madison in discussions with his Springfield High School football players. Recently, however, he did remind them of the first state championship he won 10 years ago.

On Dec. 2, 2011, Trotwood-Madison beat Avon 42-28 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon to win the Division II state championship. The victory had special significance for Douglass.

“I was the first black head coach to win (a state title) in Ohio in football,” Douglass said Tuesday during a teleconference featuring all 14 coaches from the state finalists. “Now 10 years later, it’s an opportunity this year on our 10-year anniversary to be the first Division I African-American head coach to be able to win a state championship.”

That’s something Douglass has talked about to inspire his team ahead of the state championship game at 7:30 p.m. Friday. No. 5 Springfield (13-1) plays four-time state champion Lakewood St. Edward (14-1) at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Springfield will try add Clark County to the list of 46 Ohio counties that have won a state championship in football.

Douglass tell his players, “Hey, it’s possible. It happened 10 years ago. Why can’t you do it this year?”

Douglass also reminds his players they lost 12-10 in the state semifinals last year to Cincinnati St. Xavier, which won the state championship a week later by beating Pickerington Central 44-3. Those scores proved to Springfield last year they belong among the state championship contenders, and they’ve continued to prove that this year.

In 2011, Trotwood-Madison had a similar storyline. The Rams lost 45-33 to Maple Heights in the state championship game the previous season and had something to prove in 2011 as they sought to win the first football championship in school history.

“We had lost the year before in a heartbreaker,” said Mike McCray, a junior linebacker in 2011 who went on to become a co-captain for the Michigan Wolverines as a fifth-year senior in 2017 and is now a first-year graduate assistant at Notre Dame. “Getting that win meant so much for our community and our school and our team. From a player standpoint, we were all really really close. We all still talk to this day. The coaching staff was really great. We had a lot of NFL experience, a lot of playing experience on that team, coaching wise. It all worked out.”

McCray was featured in the opening paragraphs of the Kyle Nagel’s Dayton Daily News story on the state championship victory.

“My emotions are just taking over,” McCray said then as the team celebrated.

The Rams finished 15-0 that season. The offensive star was running back Israel Green, who set an all-divisions record with six rushing touchdowns in the game. The roster also included: quarterback Michael Simpson, the Division II player of the year as a senior that season; cornerback Cam Burrows, who played at Ohio State; linebacker Bam Bradley, who played at Pittsburgh and in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens; and running back Ashton Jackson, who ran for 1,081 yards and 17 touchdowns.

McCray remembers the team being one big family.

“We were always hanging out outside of school,” he said. “We would go to TJ Chumps every Monday. We played for each other, and the coaches were the same way. We wanted to win because we lost the year before so we had that chip on our shoulder.”

Trotwood-Madison returned to the state championship game in 2012, losing 16-12 to Toledo Central Catholic, and 2013, losing 24-0 to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. Douglass left after the 2013 season to take the job at Springfield. The Rams played in three more state title games in the next six seasons, winning it all in 2017 and 2019 under head coach Jeff Graham.

The 2011 season was Douglass’ 11th at Trotwood-Madison. As a senior, he played in Trotwood-Madison’s first appearance in the state championship game in 1981. The Rams lost 28-7 to Cleveland Benedictine.

Douglass, a defensive back, played college football at Kentucky, where his son Moses now plays. After being drafted with the last pick in the eighth round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, Douglass appeared in 139 games over 11 seasons in the NFL (nine with the Bears and two with the New York Giants). He made his mark as a special teams captain and five times was named a special-teams alternate for the Pro Bowl.

Douglass retired after the 1997 season. In 2001, he told Tom Archdeacon, of the Dayton Daily News, he had one regret.

“I wanted to go to the Super Bowl so bad, but I always just missed it,” Douglass said then.

Douglass spent the 2000 season as a secondary coach at Springfield South High School before getting the head coaching job at his alma mater.

“I’m just looking to lay a foundation for the kids to believe in what we as a group are doing,” Douglass said in 2001. “Our thing this year is to return to the glory.”

That didn’t happen overnight. Trotwood-Madison finished 2-8 in his first season. The Rams returned to the playoffs in 2002 and finished 8-3, but that was the only playoff appearance in his first five seasons. They won a playoff game for the first time in the Douglass era in 2007 and then won two playoff games in 2009, setting the stage for the run to the state championship game in 2010 and 2011.

Douglass played a big part in the success.

“He was the leader of our team,” McCray said. “He believed in everybody on the team. He let the position coaches and coordinators control the game game in and game out. He was just a great leader and led us to a state championship. He cares about everybody. He’s not a selfish guy. He demands greatness, too.”

McCray said Douglass’ former players will root for Springfield this week. As of Tuesday, he was trying to choose between going to Canton to see the Wildcats or to Indianapolis on Saturday to see his alma mater, Michigan, play for the Big Ten championship.

“Pretty much everybody in the city of Dayton is cheering for Springfield,” McCray said.

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