Prep Football: Trinity Christian tries to maintain focusBy CHRIS GOLTERMANN
It's been less than four years since Chris Hanson stepped away from the NFL to become a head football coach at Trinity Christian. But after a thrilling 33-14 victory over Mount de Sales — one that saw the Lions score 19 points off three straight turnovers late in the second half — the former punter looked as if he had extended his career by four more quarters.
"That was a straight-up dogfight," Hanson said after his team improved its record to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in GISA Region 2-AAA. "That was the toughest game we've been a part of yet."
Starting with a fumble at their own 1-yard line, Trinity Christian capitalized on three consecutive turnovers in a 14-14 game just when it looked as if the Cavaliers were ready to take over the game.
"I think that's one of the biggest differences between last year's team and this year's," Hanson said after the team returned to practice this week. "We understand a game can turn at any moment. We just have to keep doing our jobs and do what you're asked 100 percent. Offense and defense stepped up when we needed them too."
Trinity's staff has tried — win or lose — to immediately move on to the next "opportunity." And tonight's trip to Westminster of Augusta (6-3, 0-3) is the biggest one yet. A victory keeps the Lions in the race for second place in the region and possibly a title barring what unbeaten Heritage does tonight at home against Tattnall Square.
A week after clawing to the finish, Trinity would like to avoid overlooking a Westminster lineup that has struggled so far in region play after reeling off six consecutive wins to open the season. The Wildcats, behind quarterback Tim Nabholz, have scored 20 points in all but two games including last week's 49-14 loss to 8-0 Heritage School.
In just its third GISA season, Westminster has succeeded with a spread-like offense that uses short, precise passes to move the ball down the field with hopes of avoiding the pass rush.
"Coach Bryan does a good job with that team and they'll be ready to play," Hanson said. "They like to throw, but they'll run as well when you don't respect the run. He like to mix things up."
Hanson and his staff are hoping the Lions carry Saturday's momentum from the second half into tonight after preaching aggressiveness on the field all season.
"We just have to do what we do. Attack on offense, attack on defense and attack on special teams. We're definitely focused on this week. it's another opportunity for us. We have two opportunities given to us left and we've got to earn another one," Hanson said. "I think that's the guys understanding the mentality of keep playing, keep fighting. Not every game is going to be any easy game. We definitely don't have one this week."
Trinity — which played its first home game last Friday following a month on the road — may be battle-tested after going 2-1 against the region's three schools from Macon, all of which have won multiple state titles.
"We have to stay focused. This week is definitely a week to be mentally prepared and be physical and be smart about what we do," Hanson said. "We're still in region. it's still important and we've got to come ready to play."