High School Football
Trinity’s Lions hungry to hit field after long wait
by Chris Goltermann
Fasting is never a healthy option when it comes to eating habits. But when it comes to football, Trinity Christian head coach Chris Hanson may be onto something should his Lions roar through tonight’s season opener against a tough John Milledge lineup.
Trinity hasn’t sniffed much of a game setting since losing in the first round of last year’s GISA Class AAA state playoffs. No spring scrimmage. No 7-on-7 passing competitions and no preseason scrimmage to quench the Lions’ thirst for football heading into play against a Trojan program that reached last year’s Class AA semifinals.
Both teams are going through its share of transitions after losing standout senior classes. They include 18 from John Milledge’s 12-1 season, the best in program history while improving to 19-5 overall under former Georgia Bulldog fullback J.T. Wahl.
Trinity marches on after losing its starting quarterback, top-two rushers and its two leading tacklers from a 6-5 season, also best among the Lions’ first-two ventures in GISA play following an 8-man championship.
It may all add up to a dogfight similar to last year’s 14-6 game where John Milledge used an extended third-quarter drive as the difference maker while mostly held in check by an improved Trinity defense.
The Trojans opened the season last week with a 13-12 loss to Brentwood on a rain-soaked Friday in Sandersville.
“They're physical, they execute well. It's going to be a dogfight kind of game,” Hanson said. “It's going to come down to who's the most physical and who does the least amount of turnovers. Last year, they scored, we scored, [our] defense held, [their] defense, held and they took the time of possession in third quarter and made that the difference in the game. They’re capable of moving the ball, doing good things. We've just got to minimize mistakes and execute in all three phases.”
Hanson and his staff, which now has Jeff and son J.P. as opposing coordinators on offense and defense, have kept most of its gameplan for 2013 under wraps this preseason.
Seniors Daniel Shoates and Joe Hogan have both touted as potential starters at quarterback, with Shoates seeing snaps the last two seasons. The Trinity backfield is equally brand new with transfer J.D. Farlow, who rushed for over 2,400-yards and 34 touchdowns with Heritage Christian in the Lions’ former 8-man league. Converted tight-end Conner
Owen moves to fullback and linebacker with hopes of filling some of the gaps left by standouts Drew Gibson and Edwin Rivera, both now playing for college programs.
John Milledge went through equally heavy losses to graduation that included its starting quarterback, top rusher and top receiver. Returning senior Tommy Pittman tried to pick up some of the load last week while rushing for 111 yards on 21 carries while junior Chase Register and senior Hunter Harding led the Trojans with 12 and nine tackles respectively.
Hanson may be hoping that the extended wait and the team’s energy level provide a perfect combination to starting this fall off better than in 2012.
“You would have like to have a game or scrimmage. I don't think that would have done much,” he said. “But with this group of guys, they’re hungry.”