MASSILLON, Ohio – The first game of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Championship Weekend provided little in the way of drama.
There was a whole lot of defense, though, and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary brought a whole lot of firepower and a whole lot of star power. The Irish defense controlled the game, and St. V-M won its second consecutive Div. III title by turning five turnovers into three touchdowns and a 24-0 win.
This St. V-M team was so stacked at nearly every position that it should have won the Div. III title in dominant fashion. It did — and did so impressively.
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“It is nice to look up at the scoreboard and see that goose egg,” St. V-M linebacker and Ohio State recruit Dante Booker Jr. said. “That doesn’t happen too often in a state championship game.”
Trotwood-Madison came in averaging 217 rushing yards per game and got one in the first half. Yes, one. The Rams finished with 12 rushing and 111 total yards.
Newman Williams, a full-time linebacker, part-time fullback and 245-pound bowling ball, scored two rushing touchdowns. He led the way on another, a 1-yard plunge by Vince Lockett with 9:21 left that sealed it. Another Ohio State recruit, Parris Campbell, rushed for just 58 yards but went over 1,600 on the season became the school’s all-time leading rusher in doing so.
This senior class won its last 21 games and the school’s fifth and sixth state titles.
“Each day, winning back-to-back titles was our goal,” Williams said. “The defense set the tone. We had a mentality that we were going to lead, get stops, make plays. And we did.”
Trotwood-Madison came in on a tear, having outscored its postseason opponents 165-28. But the Rams lost in a state championship game for the fourth consecutive year — the previous three were in Div. II — because they couldn’t sustain any offense or capitalize on St. V-M’s two turnovers.
How dominant was the St. V-M defense?
Down 24-0 with eight minutes left, facing fourth and five at its own 45, Trotwood-Madison took a delay of game, then punted.
The Irish only got 236 yards of offense themselves but led 10-0 at halftime and 17-0 midway through the third after turning another interception into another Williams touchdown.
Booker, who was named Ohio’s Mr. Football on Wednesday, was all over the field. When it was over, Booker credited Williams, Lockett and the defensive line that included twin brothers Aaron and Anthony Adkins and Travonte Junius — like Williams, an Akron recruit — who tipped and intercepted the pass at the Trotwood-Madison 8-yard line with 4:50 left in the third.
Williams scored on the next play.
“It was our preparation,” Booker said. “We have so many good players on this team. We knew we’d have a good game plan and a chance to grab the momentum, and we did. All we were focused on was winning this game.
“I think we were better this year. We had the experience. This was a complete defense, something special. And we went out the way we wanted to.”