December 7th, 2014

Trinity redemption tour rises to the top once again

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Paul Najjar

Senior Writer

Trinity redemption tour rises to the top once again
Trinity's Donald Brooks (left, No. 19) shares a post-game embrace with teammates Brenton Ervin (center) and Jailen Reed (No. 34) / photo and cover by Paul Najjar

This one belongs to the seniors, the schedule, the skill and leadership of Ryan Young and the heart and talented legs of Donald Brooks.

The Trinity Shamrocks won their 23rd state championship with a decisive 47-14 victory over Dixie Heights in the Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl Class 6-A title game Saturday night at Western Kentucky University’s Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. 

This win tied Highlands, whose comeback win over Owensboro in the game prior to Trinity's gave the Bluebirds their 23rd title, for the most trophies in the commonwealth.

Though the Rocks allowed a score by Dixie Heights (13-2) on its first series—bolstered by a big 74 yard gain from the Colonels quarterback Drew Moore, who followed that effort with a 13 yard touchdown run—they scored five consecutive first-half touchdowns to take a 33-6 lead at halftime. Brooks (twice) and Jailen Reed on the ground; Brooks and Jacob Woosley in the air.

Young completed a Manning-esque 15-of-19 passes for 309 yards and three touchdown strikes. The defense gave up chunks of yards, but after that first series stifled the Dixie read-option attack. And Brooks played a magnificent game scoring five touchdowns, three by land and two by air, amassing 193 total yards, 128 on 15 carries and 65 yards on 5 receptions. 

The Rocks finished with 540 total yards to Dixie’s 395.

“He (Brooks) was outstanding the entire year,” Trinity head coach Bob Beatty said of Brooks’ effort. “Never had a harder working group of young men in my life. All the others (titles) are sweet, but this group of young men refused to quit. That’s a fine team and they ran the read option very well. You can practice against it, but once we reacted to it at full speed we made the adjustments. I’m so proud of them.”

It was a road paved with the most difficult schedule in this state and arguably the states bordering Kentucky. Top teams from Tennessee (Ensworth), Indiana (Carmel and Cathedral), Pennsylvania (Imhotep Charter) and Florida (Cocoa), along with everyone’s No. 1 in Class 6-A Male, and Super District opponents St. Xavier and Manual. The seniors led, the underclassmen persevered and all of this resulted in title No. 23 for Trinity (10-5).

“Hats off to a great Trinity team,” Dixie Heights head coach David Brossart graciously said. “We got off to a good start, but we couldn’t hold off the storm. We had trouble with the screen game. We couldn’t force them to punt. If we got them in third and long they seemed to make the big play. They’re a very, very good football team and we’re just not there yet.”

Trinity’s schedule included a variety of opponents, from strong passing offenses (Male), to ground-heavy attacks (Imhotep, St. Xavier, Colerain and Cocoa). They’d seen it all and, eventually, beat them all.

“We didn’t let anything get to us, we just kept pushing,” Young said. “That regular season (schedule) prepped us for these playoffs. And that’s why we always had faith. We kept practicing hard and we knew we were going to have our time to shine and (in) these playoffs, we did.”

Earlier in the year Young completed an otherworldly 27-of-28 passes for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns in Trinity’s 31-19 win at Indianapolis Cathedral. Though his numbers in the title game were a bit below those, Young had his way in the passing game.

“I felt good out there and felt like I was on tonight,” he said. “We were well prepared and knew their line defensive line was good. But, we felt like we could expose them in the secondary so that’s what we did.”

Two touchdown passes to Brooks, one of which resembled a two-hand chest pass as he was sandwiched between two defenders and inches from being hauled down for a sack, and one to Jacob Woosley along with a couple of big plays each to Rodjay Burns and Connor Carrico rounded out the big plays for Young and his receiving corps. The effort earned the senior, who doubles as Senior Class President, Most Valuable Player honors.

But it was Brooks’ night, too. The big-play ability, the scintillating moves—his shimmy, shake and foot plant on the 10 yard touchdown catch and run left three Dixie players on the ground, flailing at the air—the pure speed, all of it was supported this season by a toughness he’d not displayed in prior years. That dovetailed perfectly with his renewed dedication to his teammates and school.

After the game, the tears flowed. Copiously. One after another, teammates hugged him and congratulated him for enduring.

“It’s been a journey,” an emotional Brooks said during the post-game celebration, as tears flowed liberally and without shame. “Basically, that was what God had done for me and helped me overcome. Just thinking about my junior year and how immature I was. It was a problem. I had to mature for this season. There were times when we were down on ourselves with the tough schedule, but the regular season prepared us for this. I love my team. I love my teammates.”

And the fans loved watching him dazzle on the field. His turnaround and Young’s playmaking ability at quarterback, along with a stellar defense that kept getting better in the last six weeks of the season, were the cornerstones of this Trinity team.

That defense included top-notch performances down the stretch from Adam King, Landon Corolla, Conner Foos, Damon Lowe, Vincent Lococo, Brenton Ervin, Rodjay Burns, Alex Reisert and Luke Eskins, among several others.

“The kids make it so special,” Beatty said. “To come back and finish like we did, it’s just great. Every championship has a story. To end the regular season 5-5 and to come back and win the tournament, five games in a row in the fashion that we did, that says a lot about the character of these young men.”

The seniors; the schedule; the redemption. Chapter 23 in the Trinity football history book. 


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