TROTWOOD — The Trotwood Rams will try to finish the regular season undefeated by putting its 9-0 record to the test against the Wayne Warriors Friday night in Trotwood. Trotwood is coming off of a 68-21 shellacking of Xenia last week and Wayne comes in fresh off of a challenging 28-13 win over Springfield.
Not to slight Centerville, but Wayne has not faced a physical athletic team like Trotwood since the Pine-Richland game. Wayne has grown a lot since the first week loss in Gibsonia, Pa. The new young starters have begun to trust each other and gel as a unit. Steven Victoria has emerged as a complementary threat to go with L’Christian Smith and addition of freshman Austin Mullins makes a third option that keeps defenses honest.
Trotwood has only been challenged twice this year but came out on top in both contests. In week two, Piqua was able to stay with Trotwood all game, but fell short in the end 35-28. The Indians were able to stay on pace by passing the ball because Trotwood’s defense is stout against the run.
The last time Trotwood was challenged was its week three matchup with Pickerington Central. The Tigers are predominately a running team so it was strength against the strength of Trotwoods’ rushing defense, and Trotwoods’ rush defense was a little better. Trotwood came out on top 28-19.
When Trotwood has the ball
Trotwood’s offensive line is massive, averaging 300 lbs. along the line. They are the main reason that GWOC’s number two runner, Raveion Hargrove, has been able to run the ball 109 times for 1467 yards. Trotwood has the number one offense in the GWOC, averaging over 500 yards per game, 292 of that on the ground.
Trotwood is a run heavy offense, but quarterback senior Markell Stephens-Peppers completes over 60% of his passes and has 24 touchdown passes to only one interception. Trotwood can beat you running the ball or passing the ball, but stopping the run gives you a better chance to win.
When Wayne has the ball
The Wayne offense is very close to putting it all together and turning in a dominant performance. Rashad McKee has matured and advanced beyond most people’s expectations. The Wayne passing attack is a legitimate threat to any team going forward. L’Christian Smith is a mismatch problem for most defense, so they use help on him at times, but Steven Victoria has shown that he can be a handful as well. Austin Mullins is not afraid to catch the ball in the mix and is another deep threat as well. He has made some big plays this year and McKee trusts him to make tough catches.
Trotwood’s defense is number one in the GWOC (no. 2 Rush, No. 3 Pass) is best suited to stop the run than the pass. It has four interceptions, but two were against Troy, the first week of the season. Wayne will be a true test to the Trotwood pass defense. The only team Trotwood has faced that has an effective passing offense was Piqua and it gave Trotwood fits.
Garrett Russell continues to be a solid kicker and a surprisingly good punter. Last year Garrett came in with no experiencing kicking field goals, but he mastered it quickly. This year he took over the punting duties and has done the same. Special teams can win or lose close games and Wayne has been on both ends of that this year. A Russell kick in 2nd OT won the game for Wayne against Northmont and special teams’ gaffs fumbled the game away to Centerville.
Trotwood has the athletes to take kicks and punts all the way for touchdowns, so Wayne will have to top of its game. Trotwood has return one kick and one punt for a score this year.
This is going to be a physical matchup between two teams that are playoff bound, but have bragging rights on the line. Neither team is wanting to go into the playoffs with injuries, but it’s going to be all hands on deck. Wayne wants a home playoff game and a win in this game will deliver it into its hands. Trotwood felt like it could beat Wayne last year and will want to make good on that this year.
Wayne is going to have to stop Hargrove and contain Markell Stephens-Peppers, making Trotwood have to put the ball in the air. The Wayne defensive will have its hands full and the front seven is going to have to make tackles before the runners can get to the next level.
The other storyline is the Wayne passing game versus the Trotwood pass defense. Can Trotwood put enough pressure on McKee to not allow him to move the ball through the air? Wayne won’t abandon the run, but it will have to have its passing game on point.
Reach Robert Williamson II by email: firstname.lastname@example.org