For football coaches at all levels, managing expectations is as much a preseason ritual as two-a-days and recording 40-yard dash times.
Words like rebuilding, inexperienced and raw are part of a familiar nomenclature that reverberates through the football community each August.
Bringing fans back down to Earth is just part of coaching.
Unfortunately, for Trinity head coach Bob Beatty, taking the shine off of this year’s team may be impossible.
The Shamrocks, ranked No. 9 in the nation by RivalsHigh.com, return 15 starters from a team that went 14-1 last season and clinched the 6-A state title with a 38-0 rout of Male in the championship game.
With an abundance of talent and experience, the Rocks are heavy favorites to repeat as 6-A champs.
“We cannot control the expectations and we never talk about things we cannot control,” said Beatty, who is entering his 12th season at Trinity. “It’s there and you tolerate it.”
Eight starters return from an offense that outscored opponents 620-156 last season.
Junior quarterback Travis Wright is back after throwing for 2,737 yards and 34 TDs last season.
So is running back Dalyn Dawkins, who rushed for 799 yards and 10 TDs. Joining him is wide receiver James Quick, who caught 88 passes for 1,115 yards and 15 TDs.
On defense, junior cornerback Ryan White (five INTs) and last season’s leading tackler senior Adam Reynolds (73 tackles) will be joined by highly regarded junior end Jason Hatcher.
Also returning is OL Joey Warburg (6-3, 260), who has committed to Illinois.
Last Friday the Rocks squared off with 5-A state champion Ft. Thomas Highlands in a preseason scrimmage and prevailed 38-14.
Dennis Lampley, Trinity’s director of athletics, estimated the crowd at 2,000 –for a scrimmage!
Beatty was pleased with his players’ effort but sees room for growth. “At this time of year we’re trying to find the personality of the team and overall I wasn’t 100 percent pleased and I don’t think you want to be at this point,” he said.
Beatty’s team will play a regional schedule that takes them out-of-state for every non-district game. Their first local matchup is with archrival St. Xavier on Friday, Sept. 30 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
“Their talent level is above everybody and they have a lot of experience back,” said St. X coach Mike Glaser, who has won seven state titles in 29 seasons.
“They have players with speed and size from all over the area,” he added.
Even with the national rankings and bevy of talent, don’t expect local teams to lie down.
“If you think we’re going to come out on September 30 and not expect to win, then you’re out of your mind,” said Glaser.
“I think every team is beatable…and we’re very capable,” Glaser added.
In 2010 first-year coach Chris Wolfe posted an 11-4 record and the Bulldogs advanced to the state final, falling to Trinity 38-0. This season Wolfe will need to replace 17 departed senior starters.
Lorentez Barbour threw for 555 yards (seven TDs) last season and tallied 23 tackles and two interceptions as a defensive back. Barbour, a senior who also plays basketball and runs track, will move to free safety this year while junior Aladin Ganibegovic gets a shot at QB.
Ronjae Morris (Sr., RB) racked up 1,197 yards rushing and 13 TDs last season and thinks the team’s success will depend on how quickly younger players get acclimated to the speed of varsity play.
“We’re the underdog in the district this year and we’re depending on people stepping up and filling slots,” said Morris. “It’s a big jump from freshman and JV games to varsity, so we’re just trying to get them adapted and as comfortable with the system as possible.”
Senior running back Darmontre Warr averaged 8.7 yards per carry in 2010 and will lead the Crimsons, who were 6-6 last season and lost to Trinity 48-13 in the second round of the state playoffs.
“Darmontre is an outstanding runner with great balance and breakaway speed,” said second-year coach Oliver Lucas. “He’s a ticking time bomb and you just never know when he’s going to go off.”
The Crimsons were outscored 331-288 last season, but will be much-improved on defense according to Lucas. “Defense is going to be our strength and we have six to seven guys on that side of the ball that’ll be big-time D-I prospects.”
Senior inside linebackers Jake Ulinski (65 solos tackles in 2010) and Jake McNair (61 solo tackles) along with senior cornerback Trey Wells (seven INTs) and end Thomas Chapman (6-4, 290) are standouts on defense.
Mike Glaser enters his 30th season with a multi-faceted offense led by senior quarterback Alex Mattingly, who threw for 717 yards and seven TDs last season with only three interceptions.
“He’s an excellent passer with excellent speed and good leadership,” Glaser said. “I think he’ll be one of the best quarterbacks around.”
The Tigers, who finished 10-3 last season, will be potent on the ground as well.
A talented corps of running backs includes sophomore Charles Walker and juniors Lamondray Clemons (5.0 yards per carry, three TDs in 2010) and Brandon Moore (5.3 YPC, two TDs).
“We’re much more balanced than last year and we’ll be a very good passing team with excellent receivers, but we also have outstanding runners,” said Glaser.
After trouncing Simon Kenton 35-0 in a scrimmage last Friday, Glaser was reassured of his team’s potential.
“I think it verified that we’re starting to come together,” he said.
The Bruins return only four starters from last season’s 8-4 squad that lost to St. X in the second round of the state playoffs. Coach Mike Jackson, entering his fourth season, described the team as “clunky.”
“We’re just not as smooth or as crisp as we’d like to be, but that’s how it goes when you have sophomores starting across the board,” said Jackson.
Senior Jamal Bullitt collected five interceptions last season at free safety and will move to outside linebacker and wide receiver this year.
“Jamal’s a gifted player and very coachable,” said Jackson. “He’s not a rah-rah type, but he gets the job done.”
Other top players include senior TE/OL David Martin (6-5, 245) and Cam Lewis (Jr., WR). Last season, in his first year of organized football, then-junior Erick Ford started three games at nose tackle and hopes to make a bigger impact this season as a full-time starter.
The Eagles, coached by Ken Whalen (eighth season) return 13 starters from a 6-5 team last season.
According to Whalen, quality skill position players, depth in both offensive and defensive backfields and very good special teams and kickers will be the hallmarks of this year’s team.
Eight starters return on defense, led by seniors Matt Davis (TE/OLB), Willie Ramper (OLB), Beau Biller (LB), Caleb McMahan (DL), Giovanni Duarte (DL) and Lateef Cox (DL) who are all entering their third year as starters.
Senior quarterback Tanner Evans, another three-year starter, threw for 1,439 yards and eight TDs in 2010.
Junior wide receiver/defensive back Shane Fields grabbed five interceptions last season and added seven TDs.
First-year head coach Joe Nichols inherits a team that went 4-8 last season and fell to Henderson County 56-35 in the second round of the state playoffs.
Nichols was head coach at Manual from 2001-09 and posted a 66-38 record.
The Tigers have big holes to fill after graduating defensive tackle Jamon Brown, safety Jalen Harrington and all-purpose back Jerrell Moore. All three signed with the University of Louisville.
Senior running backs Jalen McNeal and Darius Ross will head a strong ground game and senior quarterback Claiborne Holmes returns after playing only three games last season due to an injury to his throwing hand.
“We won’t have a lot of depth, but we are working on getting them to compete and focus on a common goal, not worrying about individual stuff,” said Nichols.
Matt Brown is excited as his program makes the jump from 5-A to 6-A.
“I’m ready to get rocking and rolling and see what these guys can do,” said Brown, who is entering his fourth season.
The Colonels were 7-5 last season and fell to John Hardin 41-17 in the second round of the 5-A state playoffs.
Fern Creek at St. Xavier, 7:30 p.m.
Trinity at Brentwood Academy (TN), 8 p.m.
Male at Floyd Central (IN), 7:30 p.m.
Central at Manual, 7:30 p.m.
Jeffersonville (IN) at Eastern, 7:30 p.m.
Atherton at Oldham Co., 8 p.m.
Western at Ballard, 7:30 p.m.
Category: High School Sports Report