High School Football

Lions ready for first opportunity against Terrell

by Chris Goltermann

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Just the thought that Trinity Christian's 2014 football season was less than 48 hours away was enough of a wakeup call for head coach Chris Hanson on Wednesday.

But his team provided him with the sensations of a cold shower, nonetheless.

Hanson ended an indoor practice by stepping outside to settle an ALS Challenge given by colleague and defensive coordinator J.P. Weaver, a sight that enthralled the Lions, who took the pleasure of watching their coach get soaked with a watercooler filled to the brim with ice cubes.

Trinity, meanwhile, finally gets a chance the test the waters against an opponent for the first time since closing the 2013 season with a loss in the first-round of the GISA Class AAA state playoffs with a trip to Terrell Academy on Friday in Dawson.

The Eagles are making the jump to AAA this year under veteran coach Bill Murdoch in a matchup of schools that have different dynamics heading into the fall.

The two programs will meet for the first time on Friday.

Terrell returns at least a dozen starters from a 4-6 year in Class AA, one that included inconsistencies including three wins by at least two scores and as many as 49 points, as well as three losses by at least a 25-point margin.

Trinity, meanwhile, enters a year with a much smaller group of starters back and an influx of new faces including nine freshmen. But after nearly a month of practice, the Lions coach admits that the team is ready to finally hit the field against someone other than in black and purple.

'I think we're ready. This is a chance to see where we're at,' Hanson said. 'This is the next opportunity. We know they're a good program. Coach Murdoch's been there for 10 years and that's a sign of how good a coach he is.'

Last year was Terrell's first sub .500 finish since Murdoch's arrival in 2005, having previously led SGA in Damascus as its head coach for 15 years, reaching the postseason each season.

The Eagles are coming off a successful summer that included a secondplace finish at Sherwood Academy's 7-on-7 tournament, with returning senior quarterback Dalton Todd (6-0, 175) expecting to lead the team in Friday's season opener.

Terrell also returns two top receivers in seniors Raleigh Carson (5-11, 168), an All-State player in Class AA last year, and Gable Freeman, along with offensive linemen Bentley Griffin (5-11, 185, Jr.), Andrew Hatcher (56-11, 205

Josh Gonzalez (6-1, 235, Sr.). Another senior, Logan Eubanks (5-10, 180) is pegged with leading a revived run attack heading into this season.

'I expect them to be just as ready for us,' Hanson said. 'They've thrown the ball around a lot the last year, but they've really put an emphasis on their run game from everything I've heard. We just have to be prepared. The biggest thing for our guys is staying hydrated for four quarters.'

Trinity enters its fourth season of 11-man football, all under Hanson, with one of its youngest rosters since arriving in GISA, as well as one of its most untested heading into an opener.

The Lions return one defensive player from last year's starting lineup in senior Diego Henriquez, who should be a centerpiece of this year's unit after leading the team with 86 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

'The way we use him, he could easily finish with over 100 tackles this season,' Weaver said. 'This year he's going to play more of a safety role. Defensively we've been working a lot on the fundamentals this year, more than we have in the past two seasons.'

The opener is the first test as well for a staff with new assignments. Hanson will call offensive plays while working with first-year offensive coordinator Bruce Seals, who was promoted from Trinity's feeder programs.

Junior Grant Hurston and freshman Jake Estes have both been vying for a starting quarterback opening that was last held by Daniel Shoates, now at Tuskegee. Hurston and Henriquez are the only returning players that had at least 100 yards rushing.

'The biggest thing we've talked about with them is efficiency in what we do,' Hanson said. 'On defense or offense it still comes down to everyone doing their together as one unit. I think it's going to an exciting year and I think it's going to be a fun year.'



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