The 24-21 loss to South Grand Prairie last week to end Euless Trinity’s season in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II football playoffs may not be as much of a head-scratcher to those who follow high school football closely.
After all, South Grand Prairie (7-4) beat perennial power Arlington Martin in the second week of the regular season. And the Warriors nabbed three interceptions against Trinity and forced overtime in last year’s 32-29 bi-district win for Trinity.
Trinity coach Chris Jensen said South Grand Prairie can beat any team in the state going forward in the playoffs this year, and after beating Trinity, that starts with a matchup against another state power in Denton Ryan in the area round.
But the knowledge that you lost to a good team doesn’t take the sting out of losing.
“It always hurts for the seniors, whether it’s the first game of the playoffs or the sixth game,” Jensen said. “But it certainly came sooner than we’re used to.”
And how. Trinity had not lost in the bi-district round since the Trojans’ 28-14 loss to Arlington Lamar to end the 2003 season.
Jensen told the Star-Telegram after the loss that the Warriors were more successful than anyone this season at bottling up the Trojans’ vaunted rushing attack by bringing extra defenders off the edge.
“It was tough to get outside – it was kind of scary,” Jensen said. “And then anything slow-developing, they were coming around the corner and catching us from behind.”
Running back Ja’Ron Wilson carried the ball 18 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the loss, and DeJaun Garrett ran 19 times for 150 yards and another score. Those numbers signify generally efficient running by both backs, but by keeping the quick and shifty backs in the middle of the field and not allowing them to get outside for bigger gains, South didn’t give up the big play, the long runs that Trinity (10-1) got used to snapping off three to five times per game throughout the regular season.
“Over the course of the season we got accustomed to having long runs and big scoring plays,” Jensen said. “When we weren’t getting a bunch of those, we seemed to get frustrated. You go into halftime of a playoff game with the score tied, and you’re supposed to feel good about that, but there was such frustration on our faces.”
With a senior-laden team this year, Trinity will have to reload quickly at multiple key positions for another run next year. Both running backs, quarterback Tyler Natee and two to three starting positions on both the offensive and defensive lines were all occupied by seniors this year.
So is strong safety Justus Gregg, the team’s leading tackler, and linebacker Devin Abdullah, who was second on the team in tackles until a leg injury in Week five sidelined him for multiple weeks.
But if Trinity fans are used to anything besides deep playoff runs in November, it’s reloading for another deep run the following year.