Angelo Grose

Mansfield Senior's Angelo Grose runs for a first down as Aurora's Ben Rogge (15) and A.J. Barner converge on him during the Division III state semifinals at Nordonia High School's Boliantz Stadium.

TROTWOOD -- Trotwood-Madison football coach Jeff Graham wants to know where Angelo Grose is at all times on Friday.

The former Ohio State and NFL star wide receiver, who leads his Rams into the Division III state title game against Grose and the Mansfield Senior Tygers on Friday at 3 p.m. in Canton, knows danger when he sees it.

"(Grose) is the kind of player we have here at Trotwood, as well. You look at him and he can affect the game in multiple ways," Graham said of the Michigan State-bound Grose, who leads the Tygers with 18 TDs on offense and more than 100 tackles on defense.

Grose was announced Tuesday as the Division III Defensive Player of the Year in Ohio.

If Graham, who has led the Rams to a 65-17 record and a pair of state titles since taking over in 2014, wasn't sure of Grose's ability before Friday, the gifted Tyger surely opened his eyes in the second OT of a 27-21 win against Aurora in the state semifinals.

All Grose did was intercept an Aurora pass to end the Greenmen possession and then caught the game-winning touchdown pass just a few minutes later. Those big plays came one week after the 5-foot-10, 190-pound dynamo had the game-winning TD in OT against Sandusky in the regional title game.

"He can play on offense and be running back, quarterback, be in the slot and affect the game," said Graham, 50, who had 542 receptions for 8,172 yards and 30 TDs during 11 seasons with six NFL teams.

"He can go to defense and play linebacker, corner, safety. If they want to put him on the defensive line, because he’s that athletic, to be able to affect the game," Graham said. "We’ve got to know where he’s at on every play. Even when it’s a time out, we need to know where he’s at, because he’s just that special of a player."

Graham, whose playoff coaching record is 19-4, is impressed by the Tygers.

"When you look at them on film, you can see that they have the moxie. As coaches, that is what you love to see. They perform at a high level," Graham said.

It's been a down-up-down-up season for Graham's Rams, making their eighth state-title game appearance and seventh since 2010. Trotwood-Madison won a Division II state title in 2011 and a Division III state title in 2017, posting 15-0 records each season.

The first thing the program had to overcome was the tornadoes that roared through the Miami Valley in May, damaging homes and apartments and displacing many Trotwood residents and students.

The Rams opened with a 36-7 loss to Winton Woods and then followed with seven wins, all against Division I opponents. The Rams then lost the last two regular-season games against Springboro and Springfield, both Division I playoff participants.

Graham's team has been on a roll since the Division III playoffs began, beating Wapakoneta (33-21), St. Marys Memorial (41-7), Hamilton Badin (20-7) and No.1-ranked Columbus Bishop Hartley (24-19).

Graham, who averaged 18.3 yards per catch on 99 receptions while playing for the Buckeyes from 1988-1990, said his team learned from the Winton Woods loss.

"It kind of made the kids understand that playing (larger schools), we're going to have to come to play every game. They're going to be bigger, they’re going to be faster and they’re going to have more numbers," Graham said.

The learning continued in weeks nine and 10, including the 21-20 loss to Springfield, which advanced to the Division I state semifinals.

"That made us understand as a coaching staff and as players that if we get a chance to make it to the playoffs, we’ve got to do the things that we need to do to prepare for each week.

"We got an opportunity to get into the playoffs as the seven seed and we were able to take it from there," Graham said.

The Rams have plenty of weapons of their own. Freshman running back Hezekiah Hudson-Davis rushed for 1,268 yards and 11 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Cooper Stewart has throw for 1,775 yards with 19 TDs and just four interceptions.

Senior Carl Blanton Jr. leads Trotwood with 34 catches for 782 yards, averaging 23 yards per reception and scoring 10 TDs. Senior Sammy Anderson, headed to the University of Cincinnati as a defensive back, pulled in 20 receptions for 442 yards, a 22.1 per-catch average.

The Rams' defense has also been stellar, allowing seven points or less in six games.

Trotwood-Madison is also going for the rare sweep of state titles in different sports in the same calendar year. The Rams won the Division II boys' basketball title this spring, with several members of that squad performing on the football team.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"

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