Lion staff takes notice of TCA
Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 12:00 pm
By KEVIN WEAKS
Anyone who hasn’t seen the kind of season Trinity Christian Academy is having simply has not been looking.
Keith Hodge has noticed. And, he’s very impressed.
“They’re a very good football team,” said Hodge, the Dresden head coach who will send his team up against TCA in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs Friday night at Rotary Field. “They’ve kind of flown under the radar for much of the season, until late when people began to notice all the points they were scoring. They’re very solid and well-coached, which you expect to get this time of year.”
After a 3-7 season in 2011, the first year under head coach Blake Butler, and three losses to open the 2012 season, it’s easy to see how the Lions of Jackson could slip out of view from many area prep football observers.
But, those three losses came to Jackson Christian, University School of Jackson and South Gibson, all pretty good programs this season.
Since then, Trinity has won seven of its last eight games, the lone loss a 52-28 shootout against another strong squad in Adamsville.
USJ, South Gibson and Adamsville sport a combined record of 20-2, with USJ and Adamsville still alive in the playoffs, while JCS finished its season at 4-6.
In pushing its record up to 7-4 heading into the second round, TCA is piling up 40 points a game. The Lions have scored 35 or more points in all seven wins, including 60-plus in two of those.
Last week, Trinity Christian exploded for a season-best 65 points while giving up only 12 in a first-round blowout win over Memphis Booker T. Washington.
Trinity averages nearly 300 yards passing and close to 150 yards rushing per game with a talented and deep offensive roster.
“Their quarterback is one of the best in West Tennessee,” Hodge said. “They like to spread the ball around. They’ll run five-wide and pick you apart. And, because they are so good at passing the ball, they’re a good running team, too. They get people going downfield, and then they’ll turn around and hand it off to one of their backs.”
Kyle Akin is blistering opposing defensive backs with close to 3,000 yards passing and a touchdown-to-interception ratio that is nearly 3-to-1.
Four receivers — Chase Diggs, Ryan Smith, Grant Reviere and Eli Parker — have over 30 catches each, while running backs Austin DeMaagd and James Bond have combined for nearly 1,000 yards. Akin can run the ball, too, out the team’s spread look with more than 500 yards.
TCA will line up mostly in the shotgun, although the Lions went almost exclusively under center in a 37-14 win over McKenzie.
While Hodge would have preferred to play a game last week, he thinks the week off has helped.
“I don’t like taking a week off because it takes you out of your routine,” Hodge said. “But, it’s been good for us. We’ve had some very good practices, which is what I wanted. We haven’t missed a beat.”
And, the 38-6 loss to Huntingdon in its final regular season game, dropping the Lions from the ranks of the unbeaten and out of the No. 1 rank in 2A, apparently has had no lingering affects, according to the head coach.
“Any time you go into a game undefeated and then get beat, it shows that you can’t expect teams to just hand you wins,” Hodge said. “It makes you re-focus. You get to where you kind of cruise along, and when you get hit pretty hard, you have to re-focus and get back to your fundamentals.”
Well-rested vs. rhythm can become a factor, too, as can postseason experience.
Dresden is rested, while TCA is on a roll. The home team can also boast more postseason experience, coming off last year’s run to the state title game.
“If you come across some adversity in a game, experience helps a lot in overcoming it,” Hodge said. “But, the big thing going in is who’s getting hot at the right time. Last year, we lost to Huntingdon at the end of the season, but then we got hot in the playoffs. Right now, they’re getting hot, which gives them confidence. That plays a big part in it, too.”
The game will kick off 7 p.m. Friday at Dresden. Tickets are on sale at the school until noon Friday.
Advance tickets and tickets bought at the gate are $8, the price set by the TSSAA. Published in The WCP 11.8.12