Stout defense and a clinical 27-point second half gave Trinity’s football team a convincing 41-6 win over St. Xavier last Friday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
The Rocks moved to 6-0 and earned their third straight victory over the Tigers (3-4).
“I thought we had excellent game plans on both sides of the ball,” said Trinity coach Bob Beatty. “I want to compliment our kids on their preparation. I thought they did an excellent job.”
Sound preparation has been a constant theme all season, but how do the players – just teenagers – prepare to play in front of 30,000 fans, while also managing schoolwork, friends, family and countless other responsibilities?
To find out, I tagged along with senior lineman Eric Graehler last Friday as he navigated a jam-packed day leading up to the season’s biggest game.
Graehler (6-foot, 210 pounds) is a two-year starter at right tackle and is vice president of the senior class. In addition, he wrestles, plays lacrosse and is a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club.
Here is how Graehler prepared for last Friday’s game:
Wake-up, 6:15 a.m. – Although he is agile and explosive on the field, Graehler took a decidedly lethargic approach to the hours before sunrise. “I’m not a morning person,” he said, while downing his breakfast of choice: a spoonful of peanut butter and orange Gatorade. “I try to do as little as possible in the morning.”
Sleep did not come easy the night before.
“Usually I don’t have much trouble getting to sleep, but when we play St. X you hear all the talk and that stuff gets you riled up.”
6:45 a.m. – Next, he was out the door and made the mile-and-a-half drive from his St. Matthews home to Trinity. He arrived early to assist a group of 70 eighth grade shadows.
“It can be scary coming in here for the first time so I greet them and make sure they get to their hosts.”
9:30 a.m. – After first period religion class and Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature, Graehler tuned in to Trinity Television (TTV), a student-produced, schoolwide broadcast that, during Pride Week, featured daily videos hyping upcoming games and events.
9:40 a.m. – Graehler then sat for a test in AP Psychology. “The atmosphere is different during Pride Week, but I’ve still got to do stuff.”
2 p.m. – Following a drum line performance at lunch and the day’s final class (Environmental Science), the football team congregated outside the gym and waited as the rest of the school filed in for a spirited pep rally.
A loud ovation greeted the players.
“When you walk in and everyone’s cheering, it gets you going,” he said.
3 p.m. – The rally complete, it was back home for two hours of video games and relaxation with teammates. “Before every game since sophomore year, I and 10 other guys on the team have gone to my house and played Super Mario Strikers.”
“I think I’m the undisputed best, but it’s a game of upsets,” Graehler joked.
5 p.m. – After reporting to the locker room and completing a walk-through with the offense, Graehler was informed by offensive coordinator Andrew Coverdale that he would serve as a captain during the game. Two offensive and two defensive players are selected before each game based on performance in practices.
6:15 p.m. – Players loaded the bus and Graehler popped in his ear buds for the 15-minute drive.
8 p.m. – Coin toss. “We like to start with the ball and set the tempo with our offense, so when I walked out there I just wanted to win the toss.”
The Rocks won the toss and elected to receive.
Kickoff, 8:05 p.m. – After a long week of practice, a restless Thursday night and a hectic slate of classes, it was finally go time.
As a large contingent of Graehler’s family and friends cheered from the stands, he pulled on his helmet and took to the field.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photos by CHRIS CAHILL | contributing photographer
Category: High School Sports Report