Trotwood embraces state title: “We’ve been through a lot as a program”

Their places already secure in Trotwood-Madison sports history, the Rams football team dug deep and unearthed another gem on Friday night.

“Legacy, that’s all we’ve been talking about, legacy,” said two-way standout senior Sammy Anderson. “And adversity. We fought adversity.”

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Overcoming high-end opponents wasn’t the only factor Trotwood faced in winning a third high school state football championship. This one will go down as a 14-7 overtime defeat of Mansfield Senior for the Division III championship at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Not so easily explained was how the Rams (12-3) overcame the fallout of the Memorial Day tornado outbreak that ravaged its community and affected the program.

»» PHOTOS: Trotwood vs. Mansfield Senior, state final

And there’s that unwanted league affiliation thing. Twice Trotwood was shunned, first by the new Miami Valley League – 10 former Greater Western Ohio Conference teams that split - and then the GWOC itself, which voted to remove Trotwood following this school year.

That will leave the Rams listing as an independent moving forward and wondering why.

“We’ve been through a lot as a program,” assured Trotwood coach Jeff Graham. “We’re trying to find our way right now.”

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That should include a glorious strut down Championship Lane. The 15-0 Trotwood teams of 2017 (D-III title) and 2011 (D-II) did the same. There have been five other state runner-ups, four since 2010.

That’s a lot of championship and just-miss football. Those other Trotwood title teams had more can’t-miss college players, but those teams didn’t have to overcome what awaited these Rams.

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“Adversity is one of the biggest things we talk about and that happens in life,” Graham said. “So, we’ve got to be able to adjust to it. These guys have put it together, said we were going to win and once we got into the playoffs, these guys took advantage of the opportunity.”

Same for Anna, then Marion Local of the mighty Midwest Athletic Conference. Anna (14-1) closed out New Madison Springfield 48-14 to win a D-VI state championship also on Friday. Marion Local (13-2) did the same in Saturday’s opener, taking out Lucas 28-6 to win the D-VII championship.

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That’s three area football title shots and three big championship trophies returning. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Riley Huelskamp delivered another monster game for Anna. The senior running back went for 146 yards rushing and three scores. As usual, Huelskamp and the Rockets were hammers on defense, too.

“This is a great thing for our community,” beamed Anna coach Nick Marino. “Riley Huelskamp, he’s a game changer. People are a little afraid of him because of his size (listed at 5 feet 10, 185 pounds), but he should be a scholarship kid. They’re missing the mark if they don’t get him.”

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It was the first state title for Anna, which began playing varsity football in 2000. Rockets play football only in the MAC and remain in the Shelby County Athletic League for all other sports.

Anderson provided the University of Cincinnati what it will be getting when he is expected to sign with the Bearcats next week. His 18-yard touchdown catch in OT accounted for the final margin. His game-ending interception on Mansfield’s following possession was the perfect complement.

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He’s being recruited as a defensive back at UC. At 6-2, 170, offense could be an option, too.

Trotwood even won over Mansfield Senior coach Chioke Bradley.

»» RELATED: Legacy at work for Trotwood players

“It’s unfortunate someone had to lose this game,” he said. “It was a great game and it was a blessing to see two programs share the same field and play with the same passion and same emotion. We’ll talk about this for a lifetime.”

»» RELATED: All-Area football teams

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»» PHOTOS: Anna vs. Mechanicsburg, state semi

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