Last season: 10-1 (6-0 District 7-6A)
Key players: OL Manase Mose (6-2, 300); OL Joel Cumbie (6-2, 270); QB Malini Maile (5-11, 230); DB Cameron Jones (6-1, 185); DE Sam Leota (6-1, 250); CB John Davis (6-1, 180)
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The big picture: Trinity’s only loss last season came in the first round of the playoffs, making the District 7-6A title feel a bit empty, especially for a season that began with a victory over California’s De La Salle High School, the No. 1 team in the country. It was also a year of transition, as Chris Jensen took over for retired coach Steve Lineweaver. Now in his second season, Jensen hopes to lead the Trojans on the kind of playoff run fans have become accustomed to. He’ll have to do it with only seven returning starters, but if the past is any indication, Trinity will simply reload. It often starts upfront and the Trojans will again be big and strong, led by returning guards Manase Mose and Joel Cumbie. They will protect first-year starting QB Malini Maile, a senior who has spent the past two seasons as a backup. He knows the offense and is a better pure passer than graduated QB Tyler Natee, though perhaps not as dynamic of a runner. Jensen said he feels good about his WR corps, with seniors Corde Burns and Noah Wineteer returning and joined by sophomores Lloyd Hill and Brandon Theus. Courage Keihn will carry the bulk of the load at RB, though Ja’Lon Wilson, brother of recent grad Ja’Ron Wilson, will also see carries. Defensively, the Trojans like to control the line of scrimmage and they do it with depth. As many as eight defensive linemen could see action, with ends Sam Leota and Chris Makahununiu among them. The secondary features John Davis at corner and Cam Jones at safety. Jones was a varsity player as a freshman and Jensen said he’s stronger and more confident. Greg Garner has moved from wide receiver to join them in the secondary.
Quotable: “We’ll have some growing pains, but we welcome those. We don’t worry about them. They’re going to happen, and we’re going to learn from them. We say, ‘Don’t make the same mistake twice, make new ones.’ By the time it really starts mattering, hopefully we’ve got them ironed out and are playing good football.” — Coach Chris Jensen
“The pressure is definitely there, but we have learned to deal with it. The hard work we put in over the summer and the training, that’s something we can always fall back on, and having each other and keeping each other accountable has really been there. I wouldn’t say the pressure is a problem.” — DE Sam Leota
“We kind of look at [last year’s playoff loss] both ways. We like to use it as motivation because it was really frustrating to have the season we had and then lose in the first round. But we also don’t like to dwell on it because it’s in the past and there’s nothing we can do about it.” — WR Noah Wineteer
Notable: Trinity’s bi-district loss last season was its earliest playoff exit since a 2003 first-round loss to Arlington Lamar.