Prep Football: Trinity Christian sees results of hard work
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
There may be no greater example of the cause and effect of Trinity Christian football practices toward end results than the past two Friday nights for this year’s Lions football team.
A week after looking a bit lethargic at the start of its eventual forfeit win against Arlington Christian, Trinity dominated Dominion Christian from start to finish in a 42-0 blowout win at home. Without even dissecting the differences between both game films, head coach Chris Hanson could see why his lineup made dramatic improvements.
Trinity Christian, now at 2-1 overall, would like to especially earn a win this week when the Lions travel to Flint River Academy for more than one reason. It’s a chance for the team to continue to put last year’s two-win season in the rear-view mirror. Friday’s trip to Woodbury also presents a chance for Trinity to avenge a 28-6 loss from last year’s first football game since moving to the GISA.
Both lineups are coming off big wins that equaled last year’s win totals. The Lions put together 423 yards of total offense, 387 of which was spread between running backs Drew Gibson (159), Jay Warner and Dee Snelling.
It was a sparkling offensive debut for Gibson, who scored four times in his first extended action while also starting at linebacker. Warner, another senior addition for Trinity, now has 220 yards rushing in three touchdowns in his first three games.
Snelling has 104 yards a touchdown while also picking up 39 yards receiving so far from quarterback Connor Adams (5 of 8 passing).
“We got to put in some of our young guys, which was good. I think our kids made a huge step in that, coming out at halftime and keeping a mindset and continuing to do things,” Hanson said. “Now we made mistakes like we did in the first half, and that’s what we’ve spent time on practice time correcting for the next week. It’s a constant thing of paying attention to detail and practicing like we’re supposed to be practicing.”
Trinity’s defense held Dominion’s spread offense to 116 yards and forced two turnovers. For the second time in its first three games, the Lions didn’t turn the ball over. Senior linebacker Edwin Rivera is among Trinity’s leading tacklers with 12. Snelling has also added a pair of punt returns for touchdowns among 182 return yards. Warner has added another 74 through the first three games.
“We’ve got to keep the intensity. The more intense you are in practice, the more intense you’ll play in a game,” Hanson said. “I think they understand that. I think they’re hungry. I think it’s going to be a good matchup on Friday night.
Flint River, also coming off a two-win season, evened its record to 2-2 under first-year head coach Jason Carrera in a 47-12 rout of Dawson Street, which hosts unbeaten Heritage School this week.
The Wildcats cashed in on its opening drive on a touchdown by senior Caleb Harker and then just as quickly converted a Dawson Street fumble into points on a touchdown pass from quarterback Seth Short to senior Russell Durand. Flint River led comfortably 40-0 at halftime with Short finishing 9 of 14 for 119 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Durand.
Carrera, previously offensive coordinator at GHSA Class A powerhouse Eagle’s Landing Christian, has brought in a multi-faceted offense as Short has gone from Flint River’s previous run-option attack to using both the no-huddle and shotgun formations.
“They’re a good program. Coach Carrera’s done a good job with them over there. There doing some things differently than they’ve done in the past, what they’ve been known for,” Hanson said. “But he comes from a solid coaching background and he’ll have them ready to play. They run multiple formations and that’s one of the reasons why he’s such a good coach. We’ve just got to be ready.”
Short scored twice and threw a fourth-quarter touchdown in last year’s victory over Trinity in a game that was scoreless after one quarter before Flint River started to pull away with help from a pair of Lions fumbles. Flint River had 32 running plays by halftime.
“He’s a good quarterback, doesn’t turn the ball over much. I think it’s just going to come down to execution,” Hanson said. “I think it’s turning into a good rivalry with them. They came up here last year and we started pretty good until we turned some balls over. I think it’s going to be a game like last year. We’ve just got to come out and be focused and not make the mental mistakes. Last year I think the mental mistakes hurt us.
If there’s light at the end of Trinity’s tunnel following a 2-8 debut in the GISA last year, Hanson’s keeping it obscured from view. Much like his playing days with the New England Patriots, who may welcome the approach this week, he gives Lions players 24-hours to harp on the previous game, before turning their attention to the next opponent on the schedule.
“We keep the tunnel around them as far as one week at a time, because I think that’s how I think you’ve got to play. Especially for a level of focus,” Hanson said. “What are you going to do this week? That’s most important. It’s a process and we just got to keep focus and not look ahead and not get satisfied. Do our jobs. As a coaching staff, we have to do our jobs and get our guys ready to play and the players go to do their job and play.”