Flint River Academy at Trinity Christian
Long wait over as Lions open new home tonight
by Chris Goltermann
Tonight's football game at Trinity Christian School will be a special moment for a program that's quickly gone from earning an 8-man championship to competing for stateplayoff berths in the largest classification of the GISA.
But opening its new stadium with a victory over Flint River Academy would equally go a long way for a team looking to gain further momentum on a two-game win streak with Region 2-AAA play looming at the start of October.
At 3-1, the Wildcats have won two prior meetings against Trinity (2-1), the first on its former home field at East Coweta Middle School. Last year's matchup in Woodbury left an even sour taste for the Lions, falling 20-9 while giving up a botched punt and a fumble recovery in the end zone to Flint River for only points in the second half.
'Coach Carrera has done a good job with Flint River. They're a well-oiled machine. My staff and I have been preaching to them about attention to detail this week because if you miss the little things against Flint River and it'll cost you,' said Lions head coach Chris Hanson. 'You look at last year and you make a couple of mistakes and all of a sudden you have a dropped punt and you have a ball that's behind you that's not supposed to be behind you and they're up two touchdowns in an instant.'
Tonight's Trinity-Flint River matchup is one of three home games to be played inside Coweta County. They also include this year's first Homecoming game when Northgate (1-2) hosts winless Ola while trying to avoid a letdown felt in 2012 against Union Grove. The Vikings also are among three local lineups tonight that are coming off victories last week.
The Heritage School (1-2) also hopes to even its record while hosting Dawson Street Christian, which will be opening a campus less than a mile away on Highway 29. The Hawks have dominated an annual meeting since 2010, outscoring the Wildcats 121-6 the past three years.
East Coweta, meanwhile, hopes to end a two-game losing streak while continuing a trend of top-notch non-region opponents. Following tough outings at Archer and at home against Sandy Creek, the Indians try to bounce back against Lovejoy (2-1), ranked 10th in Class AAAAAA, tonight at Twelve Oaks Stadium in Hampton.
Unlike Lovejoy, which shares a home field with Clayton County high schools, Trinity Christian has a chance tonight to start a new tradition in its first on-campus home game. The long-awaited debut came after months of preparation and planning as well as three road dates to begin the 2013 season.
'You look and three years of this program to see what it has grown into, the players that we have, the coaching staff that we have, the way the administration is built around us and how they've helped. What God has allowed to happen,' Hanson said. 'To open up this new stadium is going to be an emotional night. I hope the guys take that emotion and play well with it, use it as an energizer.'
Knowing some of those emotions as former players, Hanson and his staff used practice this week as a trial run, working out on Monday and Tuesday at the new facilities, featuring concrete stands on one side of the field and a scoreboard and play clock that sit in front of the pines facing Highway 54.
The team headed back to the new stadium for a final dress rehearsal Thursday night to 'get the hype out of the way,' Hanson said. 'That way they feel like they've been there before and just go to work a normal day and have fun.'
Coming off a dominating 38-7 victory while handing Dominion Christian its first loss of the year, Trinity expects to be facing a more concerted effort tonight in Flint River. A week after forcing five turnovers, including four interceptions, the Lions defense will have to find a way to slow down Flint River's spread offense led by seniors Seth Short, Will Couch and Jay Adams.
'That's one thing going into this week, we know we need to be detail oriented to have a chance to be competitive. They have good players, their quarterback's solid. They have good receivers. They're defensive coordinator has come over and done a great job. So they understand what they're capable of,' Hanson said. 'We've got to be able to match them. Everybody has to do their job and play team football.'
Trinity was forced to juggle the lineup last week mid-game due to injuries and still put forth solid efforts on both sides of the ball. The Lions held the Knights' spread offense to 148 yards, 80 of which from the air on 5 of 20 passing. The defense also turned one of the turnovers into points on Grant Hurston's interception return.
Trinity's offense scored four touchdowns of its own, two on runs by J.D. Farlow to go with a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Daniel Shoates.
'There was some good things last week. I was proud that we got through some adversity. I'm not satisfied and I hope they're not satisfied. The biggest thing we've tried to instill in them is to stay hungry,' Hanson said. 'We've still got a ways to go. We're still plugging some guys in at new positions. Our conditioning is getting better, our mental preparation is getting better. All I ask for is to continue building on last week and getting better. It gives us a chance to be competitive with the opportunity that's next presented to us. And this week it's Flint River.'
Both lineups enter with offenses averaging over 30 points a game, with Flint River roughing up Dawson Street 51-30 last week in LaGrange. Tonight should be a much tighter contest for both.
'It should be that game,' Hanson said. 'We've got to play execution ball and make no mental mistakes and we have to be able to control the game in all four quarters.'
Following three road games, Trinity will now stay inside Coweta County's borders in six of its last seven regularseason games. Tonight's home debut starts a string of four consecutive Fridays at the new stadium with an instant opportunity to build new traditions.
'We just want to go out and give our fans something to cheer for on that first night, give them a great memory. We get to start a tradition of our own working on our field. Everybody wants to stay undefeated on their field,' Hanson said. 'When its all said and done we get to play a game under the lights on Friday night and we get to do it on our turf.