Year after year almost every high school football program experiences some type of turnover thanks to student-athletes transferring, injuries and last, but not least, graduation. While some programs might be wary of rebuilding the team and its chemistry the following season, the Trinity Classical Academy Knights football team welcomes the challenge.
Losing six key players from last year’s third-place Academy League team, the Knights usher in a brand new 12-player freshman class that is eager to learn and experience what varsity football is all about.
Led by three-year varsity quarterback and senior Rick Roberts, among others, Trinity is laying the foundation for this upcoming season and the years to come.
“We are doing great,” Roberts said. “Our team is really coming together like no other year we have before. It feels like there are no classes to it, freshmen or seniors, it doesn’t matter. We are all just trying to play.”
Working on making the team a more efficient, explosive and cohesive unit, Roberts is taking the time to work with not only the offensive unit, but is also helping out the defense by pointing out things at game speed.
“I think my leadership has grown a lot,” Roberts said. “I feel this year, being the oldest guy on the team that I really have a command of the guys, but it’s not like I’m above them all. We are all in this together and they are looking at me because I have the experience. On the field wise, it’s bringing the same thing, the mental side of the game.”
Last season’s third-leading all-purpose yards getter and senior-to-be Kyle Fields is also doing his part by being a more vocal teammate and leading by example, breaking down the basics the newcomers.
“My big thing is trying to help the younger guys understand what they are doing,” Fields said. “I have taken a few of them and shown them what I’ve been doing, what they can do to get better and I think if they can get better at their skills then it can help us in the season.”
Fields spent time at myriad positions including running back, wide receiver and linebacker and figures to play a vital role on this year’s team.
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Sophomores-to-be, Lucas Mendoza and AJ Horning are prime examples of just what freshmen can do with a little bit of help and some guidance from their teammates.
Mendoza dabbled playing wide receiver in a couple of instances last season, but did most of his damage on defense at the linebacker position. Picking up speed throughout the season, Mendoza finished as the team’s third-leading tackler (70 total tackles) on his way to an All-Academy League selection.
Mendoza has even bigger goals in store for this season.
“My goal this year is to get 100 tackles,” Mendoza said. “Last year, surprisingly, I started. I didn’t think that was going to happen. This year, it’s just about going above and beyond from what I did last year.”
Horning, a wide receiver, defensive back combo, also returns for his sophomore campaign after scoring 12 total touchdowns, including an interception and punt returned for a touchdown as well as rushing for one and catching nine.
Horning believes that the team is coming together and learning from one another thanks to all the time spent on the football field, and will be ready to play when the time comes.
“We spend five days a week almost over eight hours a week with each other,” Horning said. “Making fun of each other, working with each other and having lots of fun. It’s a brotherhood, we are brothers.”