Depth is a concern each season for Trinity Academy coach Jared McDaniel. Numbers tend to be an issue, which is why he suits up 14 or 15 junior varsity players, and, during a 7-on-7 league in the summer, Trinity had 12 players while other teams had 40 or more.
Depth became a critical issue in 2013 for Trinity after it opened the season at 4-0 with wins over Cheney and Garden Plain. Suddenly injuries hit hard — running back/defensive back Tyler Burns suffered an ankle injury, and it got to a point where the Knights were so depleted at receiver that they were forced to use a third-string quarterback there, plus someone who had a broken finger.
“We’re one, two injuries away from that happening (again),” McDaniel said. “We need to stay healthy. We’ve got to increase our depth, and we’re trying.”
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Trinity returns 17 starters, which has allowed a greater focus on expanding the schemes and spending little time on reviewing formations.
“This year it’s ‘you know it, let’s move on.’ That’s been big for us,” McDaniel said.
The offense is strong with Burns, who had 1,296 rushing yards in 2013 despite missing one game and most of two other games. Senior quarterback Matt Jones, who had a Central Plains League-high 1,043 passing yards.
“A lot of teams want to key on Tyler, which is fine,” McDaniel said. “In our read game, Matt can pull it and he may go to the house on you or he may not. He’ll definitely keep you honest. He has a very strong arm, and he’s just gotten stronger every summer since I’ve been here.”
The offensive line has been a question mark the past few seasons, although Jackson Troutman, Mitchell List and Jacob Meyerhoff are experienced. If the offensive line can provide the skill players with some time, Trinity can score.
“We try to take advantage of every scoring opportunity we have,” said McDaniel, whose team scored 267 points, nearly 30 per game. “We’re going to score points.”
“I feel that our strengths are in speed and scoring,” he said.
The defensive strength is in the experienced secondary with Burns, Josh Osborne, Jacob Johnson and Terrance Floyd.
A LOOK AT TRINITY ACADEMY
Coach: Jared McDaniel, third season, 9-9
League: Central Plains League
Last season: 5-4
Last five seasons: 23-22
Projected 2014 playoff team? Yes
TOP SKILL PLAYERS
|Sept. 12||at Independent|
|Sept. 26||at Belle Plaine|
|Oct. 3||at Cheney|
|Oct. 10||at Conway Springs|
|Oct. 24||at Haven|
|Oct. 31||at Clearwater|
Matt Jones on his team
What Trinity does well: “We’re not a real deep team, so staying together and fighting together is a big thing. We don’t have the numbers to bring kids in to stay fresh, so we stay together. We do that well.”
What has to improve: “Never giving up on a game. Even though, say, we’re down three touchdowns, you can’t give up.”