The Trinity football team’s tendency to wear an opposing defense down in the second half is a welcome byproduct of an offense that has run on 86 percent of its snaps through six games.
Make no mistake, the Trojans would love to get off to as fast a start every week as they did in Friday’s 68-0 win over Haltom, but coach Chris Jensen doesn’t see that happening every week as Trinity (6-0, 2-0 District 7-6A) gets into the meaty portion of the District 7-6A gauntlet. All one has to do to find Trinity’s winning formula is look back one week to the Trojans’ 59-33 district-opening win over Colleyville Heritage.
The Panthers had Trinity on its heels (for just a minute) initially, scoring the game’s first touchdown on a 29-yard connection from Camden Roane to sophomore stud wide receiver Ke’Von Ahmad. Three first-half field goals from Heritage’s Max Allan had the Panthers within striking distance, down 25-16 at halftime.
But the Trinity run game persisted in the second half as the Trojans outscored Heritage 34-17 and cruised in the fourth quarter to the three-score win. The holes opened up by that massive offensive line seemed a little bigger in the fourth as Trinity scored three touchdowns on runs of 18, 54 and 62 yards.
“They take it to a whole different level in the second half. The holes just get big in the second half,” De’Jaun Garrett, Trinity’s second-leading rusher, said of his offensive line. Garrett was the beneficiary of the offensive line that averages 275 lbs. per starter.
“They grind it out and we find a way to get it done,” he said.
Trinity used the same formula in a 21-16 win over what was then the nation’s top-ranked team in Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, coming back from a 14-12 halftime deficit with second-half touchdown runs of 44 and 13 yards. At some point, the Trojans wore down Rockwall and wore down Lancaster as Trinity has outscored its first six opponents 107-51 in the second half and has scored 16 of 17 second-half touchdowns via the run.
Clearly, and without much surprise for anyone who has followed the program for the last 15 years, the rushing game is humming under Jensen and offensive coordinator Jeryl Brixey. Ja’Ron Wilson leads the team with 799 yards and eight touchdowns through six games in his follow up to last year’s 1,700-yard, 25-touchdown effort.
Wilson (5-10, 188) missed the last three quarters of a 41-16 win over Rockwall with a strained groin and was rested early after gaining 49 yards and scoring a touchdown against Haltom on only six carries.
But Garrett is more than just a legitimate second option. He’s scored three touchdowns in district play and has seven overall to go along with 399 yards in his first year of full-time varsity duties after most of his junior year was spent on the JV on the mend from an ankle injury.
Garrett (5-8, 175) has certainly arrived in the Trojans’ backfield that features two shifty speed rushers, with the power rushing threat taking the snaps in 238-pound quarterback Tyler Natee. But there are more than enough carries to go around.
Against Heritage again, it took all three runners to subdue the upstart Panthers. Wilson, who has fielded offers to play at 12 Division I colleges including North Texas, SMU and Texas State, according to recruiting service 247Sports, led the rushing attack with 21 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns, while Garrett had 110 yards and two scores on just 10 carries.
Natee bullied his way for 112 yards and a touchdown on 13 rushes.
“They’re more effective than ever with this combination,” Jensen said. “When the quarterback can carryout fakes like Tyler is able to, the lanes have tended to open up for them.”
Wilson still gets the carries commensurate with the title of “featured running back.” He’s toted the ball over 20 times in four of the Trojans’ six games, with a season-high 31 carries coming in a back-and-forth 42-32 win over Galena Park North Shore at Baylor’s McLane Stadium in Week 4.
Wilson ran for 243 yards and four touchdowns as the Trojans wrestled away a win in one of the most challenging non-district games on the schedule of any team in District 7-6A.
“He’s got the ability to make something out of nothing,” Jensen said of Wilson. “His ability to make somebody miss and the experience of knowing when to bounce outside and when not to – that’s big for him. And he’s slippery, too, hard to get a hold of.”
If Wilson is slippery, Garrett is the backfield equivalent of an oil slick, averaging 8.3 yards per carry through six games this season. He has a nose for the end zone, scoring touchdowns on roughly one of every seven carries.
With Garrett and rushers like Javontay Powe and Greg Garner, who is officially listed as wide receiver on Trinity’s roster, waiting in the wings, Jensen has the luxury of sitting Wilson for caution’s sake, either after sustaining a minor scrape like he did against Rockwall, or to save his legs for closer matchups.
When Garrett became the primary rusher against Rockwall, all he did was turn in three touchdowns and 136 yards on 17 carries. Powe also had 75 yards and two scores in that game as the Trojans outrushed Rockwall 326-130 yards.
In the past two games, Garner has gotten involved on sweep plays for big gains, scoring touchdowns of 33 and 54 yards on two of his three carries againt Heritage and Haltom.
“They all have athleticism and the intelligence so that we don’t miss a beat, whoever’s carrying the ball,” Jensen said.
If the backfield seems crowded, rest assured, it’s not from an insider’s perspective. The depth in the Trojans backfield is one of the things that inspires the ultimate confidence in members of one of the most storied programs in North Texas.
“We can win state,” Wilson said. “Got a very good chance this year.”