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November 15, 2012It's the reigning king of the hill versus this season's flavor of the Fall. Trotwood-Madison is looking for their third straight Region 8 championship and second consecutive state title. This is the Rams' fourth straight trip to the regional finals.
Turpin is looking for the program's second Regional crown as the other one came back in 2006. As good as these two programs have been this past decade they have not crossed each other's paths along the way in such a meaningful tilt. We are going to find out a ton about each of these squads when Friday night comes to a close.
TROTWOOD-MADISON (10-2) vs. TURPIN SPARTANS (12-0)
Site: Kings Stadium - Kings High School
Kickoff: Friday, November 17th at 7:30 P.M.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Isreal Green has done it all at the playoff level. In November and beyond, the T-Mad senior has 1,236 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing, including scoring in eight straight post-season games. When Green needs a blow, it's Ashton Jackson who replaces him. The junior has 392 yards and seven touchdowns in his playoff credentials. Defensively, Southwest District Defensive Player of the Year, Mike McCray comes to play every down and takes it to another level in big contests. Teams have ran away from Ohio State-bound defensive back Cameron Burrows all season long. Junior defensive lineman Verondtae Wilkinson has very bright future he will be a handful for the Spartans O-line.
Everything runs through Conner Jansen for the Turpin offense. Jansen is a master of the ball fake and runs a mean quarterback keeper up the middle. It will force Burrows to come to the middle of the field to make plays both against the pass and run. Ryan Millikin and his ability to pickup yards in the return game and after the catch receiving could be a major factor in Turpin getting over the hump in this affair. The defense will have to swarm to the ball. They have the ability to dictate the flow of the contest when Ben Versoza, Matthew Stocker, Thomas Stocker, Jason Dopp and Clay Johnson converge on things. That allows them to put the tempo of the game back into the hands of the Spartans offense. They did it in the second half last week versus Franklin and will have to do so again on Friday night.
TEAM TRENDS: Lucky number 13 for Turpin? The Spartans have won 12 games three times in the past seven seasons but the program has never seen 13 victories in a campaign. Since their freshman season, the Trotwood-Madison seniors have compiled a 46-9 mark and four appearances in the regional finals. In that span they have never lost to a Division II team that hasn't won the state title (Winton Woods '09 & Maple Heights "10 over the Rams). All of their other losses have come to Division I schools (Wayne 3, Springfield 2, Mason 1, and University School (FL).
TROTWOOD-MADISON'S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Rams are much bigger up front than Turpin is. Using that strength they need to wear down the Spartans and let Green and Jackson take over as the affair moves along after halftime. By getting their hands up on passing downs, the defensive line could cause Jansen and the Spartans trouble vertically in the passing game. The Rams have excelled in stopping teams on third downs allowing opponents to convert just 21 percent of the time. Turpin has converted 55 percent of their third downs.
TURPIN'S KEYS TO VICTORY: Head coach Rob Stoll has done a great job all season long of having his kids focused on taking away their opponents strength's. This time it won't be as easy, T-Mad can hurt you in many ways. The Spartans seem to get stronger as games go on. Getting out of the gate early and not falling behind should play into their advantage as the contest hits the home stretch. Putting pressure on freshman quarterback Messiah DeWeaver could get him rattled. That means the Spartans would have to bring the linebackers leaving them susceptible to the T-Mad line opening big holes on draw plays. The philosophy will be no different than last week - keeping everything in front of you on defense.
PREDICTION: TROTWOOD-MADISON 27, TURPIN 21