Changes Everywhere For The Tigers
By Chris Boothe
TRINITY – Things will be much different in 2016 for the Trinity Tigers, who see plenty of changes across the board. On top of being placed in a new district, the Tigers moved up a classification to 3A-DI, featuring some potential heavy hitters for the new classification. The Tigers will also be breaking a new Head Coach as Eric Droddy comes from Crockett where he served as an assistant, and replaces Jarrod Smith who resigned at the end of the season.
Droddy isn’t necessarily new to Trinity, as he is a graduate of Trinity High School. Droddy isn’t new to the Head Coaching position either, as he served in the same capacity at Queen City HS previously.
Droddy will now step in and try to lift a Tiger team that has gone 24-20 over the last four seasons and failed to pass the second round of the playoffs in each of those seasons. That shouldn’t be hard with several young players returning, including wide receivers Nolan Hodge (Junior) and D’Ante Thomas (Sophomore) helping push what could be a very explosive offense in 2016.
Hodge and Thomas will provide a strong presence on the edge, as the duo combined for 34 catches, 409 yards and four touchdowns. Now a year older, with another offseason in the weight room, Hodge and Thomas will take plenty of pressure off of the running game, and whoever steps in as quarterback in 2016.
Trinity will be replacing senior Karsten Mack, who rushed for over 2000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Looking to fill those shoes will be incoming senior Javonte Oliphant, who carried the ball just 15 times for 149 yards, good for a 9.9 yard per carry average. The burst is there for Oliphant, who will have to become accustomed to being the feature back, after serving mainly in a backup role last season.
One perk will be a pair of massive offensive linemen returning to pave the way. Juniors Brandon Phillips and Anthony Eaton will anchor a young offensive line. Phillips, who stands large at 6-0 and 275 pounds, gained plenty of experience last year, and that should bode well early and ofthen throughout the season for the Tigers.
Defensively, look no further than Marquinn Goodall. The junior linebacker tallied 94 tackles as a sophomore and has developed into a major team leader during the offseason. Fellow junior Charles McMillen should also play a big role defensively as the linebacker finished the season with 110 tackles on the season, good for tops on the team. Oliphant finished second on the team with 104 tackles and led the team with four sacks.
As a whole, the Tigers return a bevy of players defensively. With Goodall, McMillen, Oliphant, and Demetric Mills, Trinity will have a solid core of players that should keep the Tigers in each game this season.
The schedule features several tests and rivalries, with none bigger than their season opener against the nearby Crockett Bulldogs. A rematch of recent playoff matchups, the Tigers will get their chance to extract their revenge, and take advantage of a Bulldog team that is replacing a couple of key starters.
As for district play, the Tigers are now part of a new 11-3A-DI district that features Kirbyville, Coldspring-Oakhurst, Buna, Woodville, Kountze, and Warren. Trinity will know where they fit early in the playoff race with three of their first four games against playoff contenders. After hosting Buna on Sept. 23, the Tigers will travel to face Kountze before hosting Woodville in a game that could make or break their playoff hopes.
After that there is no rest as the Tigers will then travel to Coldspring for another big showdown before hosting Warren. Trinity will end the regular season on the road against district favorite Kirbyville, who replaces several players across the board after graduation decimated the Wildcats.
Overall, the Tigers look to be in good shape with a very young and talented team that also features plenty of experience across the board. While the Tigers will be looking for a new quarterback, Trinity does feature a large group of skilled players that should light up the scoreboard.
Defensively the Tigers have the defense in place to be among the tougher in the area. The athleticism up front and at the linebacker position will be key to stopping the run. That should keep the Tigers in each game this season.
The biggest question mark will be depth and adjusting to a higher level of play. With a new staff in place that is familiar with the expectations, that should be an easy transition, but there is plenty of time before the season begins.
Overall, the Tigers seem poised for another winning season, but must battle their way through a tough district. Prediction: 6-4