Hawks, Lions try to keep emotions in check
by Chris Goltermann
Don't expect a former NFL punter whose last six seasons were spent playing for Bill Belichick to show too much excitement about a single football game, even for someone who once played in a Super Bowl.
It's just how head coach Chris Hanson hopes his Trinity Christian football players have approached tonight's showdown at The Heritage School, which in the minds of the Lions, carries as much weight as a championship game in terms of consequences.
'You can't get wrapped up in all the excitement and the hoopla. That's what everybody wants us to do,' he said. 'The biggest things now is to treat this like it's just another game. We're playing an opponent who is well prepared and we have to be ready to come out and execute just like it's any other week.'
While bragging rights certainly matter - especially after falling short in each of Trinity's first two games against the Hawks - a win tonight will extend the 2013 season at least one more week and give the program back-to-back trips to the GISA state playoffs.
But the Lions have been here before and struggled to see their way through. A year ago, Trinity took a lead into halftime at home against Heritage in a game with a Region 2-AAA championship on the line, only to come up short.
The 29-14 loss, as well as a 35-13 defeat in the teams' first meeting in 2011 at Heritage, are reminders for a Trinity lineup made up of 10 seniors of how important playing a complete football game will be toward achieving its goals of a first-ever win against the Hawks and a second consecutive playoff berth in the GISA.
Trinity saw the rewards last week in a 34-14 victory over Westminster to stay in contention for the playoffs while improving to 5-4 and 1-3 in 2-AAA. For the first time in at least five weeks, the Lions offense put points on the scoreboard in the first quarter, taking a lead and keeping it throughout the game.
'It's not just all four quarters, it's every play,' Hanson said. 'It's about doing your job and not worry about someone else's.'
Trinity controlled the ball against Westminster in its I-formation offense, running it 56 times for 324 yards, 177 of which came from sophomore Jared Farlow, becoming the Lions leading rusher this year.
'It was good to see the guys rebound. We kept the ball in our possession on offense and our defense responded when we needed it to. But we still have to cut down on some of the turnovers and mental mistakes,' Hanson said. 'I think we have a good gameplan this week. Coach [Kevin] Prisant and his staff do a great job and we expect it to be a hard-fought ballgame.'
Despite an influx of youth at Heritage with 16 freshman and sophomore starters on both sides of the ball, Hanson and defensive coordinator J.P. Weaver are well versed with many of the Hawks veteran players having coached them in their ninth and 10th grade years.
'Brad Macke is a very good quarterback for them and he's done a good job. Cole Jones has really made a name for himself this year and guys like [seniors] David Bready and Dalton Trammell are hard-nosed players,' Hanson said. 'We saw in last year's game how our mistakes hurt us. When you have a game of this magnitude and these implications, you have to focus. I expect it to be the same way [tonight]