HUBER HEIGHTS – The undisputed GWOC National East Champion Wayne Warriors 8-0-1 (4-0) close their 2016 season by hosting the GWOC American North Champion Trotwood Rams at Good Samaritan Athletic Field at Heidkamp Stadium.
Wayne comes into this week fresh off of a hard fought game that ended in a deceiving 38-14 score. Trotwood comes off a 49-14 shellacking of Xenia, a game in which Xenia did not score until late in the third quarter.
Wayne puts its number one scoring offense (45.8 points per game) in the GWOC against Trotwood’s number one scoring defense (7.7 points allowed per game) in what should be another test for Wayne quarterback Rashad McKee.
Since 2008 Wayne is 5-1 against Trotwood. The last time Wayne lost was 57-27 at Trotwood in 2011, which the first year of the post-Braxton Miller era.. The Warriors missed the playoffs that year, but the Rams (would not lose any games that year) ended the season with a perfect 15-0 record and a state championships.
When Wayne has the ball
The key to this game is going to be the battle in the trenches. The Wayne offense line versus the Trotwood front seven. Some starters on Wayne’s offensive linemen that were injured earlier in the season have recently made their way back into the lineup and that’s good news for Fred Pitts and Josh Foster. They began to get the wheels rolling again last week against Springfield. Pitts and Foster are a good example of team players, who unselfishly do the things to help their team win even when they are not getting the ball.
This game should be a good test for McKee and his offensive weapons. Trotwood’s pass defense has yielded and average of 86.6 pass yards per game. That is the least given up per game in the conference. Trotwood also only gives up 74.7 yards per game on the ground, which is second only to Wayne.
Trotwood has a very active defense that likes to press up front and cover well with quick defensive backs. The Rams have 23 sacks, 16 forced fumbles (all recovered by the Rams) and 9 interceptions. Senior linebackers Devon Smith and Mikey’ion Hunter account for 9.5 of Trotwood’s 23 sacks. Senior cornerback Daylon Duverglas is 3rd in the GWOC with 4 of Trotwood’s 9 Interceptions. The leading tackler for the Rams, senior cornerback Kobe Vinegar has 3 sacks and two fumble returns for touchdowns.
When Trotwood has the ball
Trotwood’s offense is almost a mirror image of the Wayne offense. The Rams have a balanced attack led by junior quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers and junior running back Raveion Hargrove.
The Warriors are going to have to make sure they wrap up well on their tackles. Hargrove is a small quick running back that defenders can lose among his large offensive line, and when he hits daylight he’s difficult to catch. Hargrove averages 9.6 yards per carry and is the leading scorer for the Rams with 74 total points.
Stephens-Peppers isn’t a very accurate quarterback having only completed 49.7 % of his passes but doesn’t take a lot of chances (3 INTs) and he has big play ability. Stephens-Peppers can hurt you with both his arm and his legs. He has 14 touchdowns through the air and 4 touchdowns on the ground.
Trotwood has a return team, especially the punt return team that is capable of producing scores. Trotwwod has 4 punt returns for touchdown and senior Darius Wortham has two of them. Trotwood is having problems in the kicking game, and probably would not have lost to Troy the first game of the season had it had one. The Rams have not attempted a field goal this year. The fact that kicker Ta’Miya Allen is 15 of 27 on extra points may give a hint as to the reason.
Garrett Russell has been solid this year for Wayne and Trevor Hawley filled in nicely while Russell was injured. A good kicker can be the difference between going on, or going home in the playoffs. Wayne doesn’t have to worry about that part of its game.
Wayne should be able to establish the run against Trotwood. Even though the Rams have a little size up front, Trotwood hasn’t faced an offensive line or running backs like Wayne’s. Trotwood may think they have the athleticism to commit more personnel to stop the run, but that would be fatal because sooner or later McKee is going exploit the man coverage he’s been seeing.
If Wayne’s defense contains Markell Stephens-Peppers and Raveion Hargrove, make sound tackles and keep the receivers in front of them, this game should be able to dominate the Ram offense.
This game will be the final game of the ten week Thursday night series featured by ABC 22’s and Fox 45’s Thursday Night Lights. The game will be televised live over the air on channel 45.2 and will also be available on Time Warner Cable and Dish Network.
Reach Robert Williamson II via email at: RobertWilliamsonII@gmail.com