Last season’s All-State football banquet was a motivator for Xavier Trotter.
“I made third-team All-State,” the Hodgson lineman said. “I was kind of jealous. I went to the banquet, and I saw the first-team players had their highlights playing.
“I was really jealous. I told Bilal Nichols and our coaches in the weight room, ‘I’m going to make first team. I’m going to do what I have to do to get it.'”
Trotter will have plenty of highlights on the big screen at the 2013 banquet next month. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound senior improved his game in every way and was named the state’s Lineman of the Year in voting by media and the Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association board of directors.
Trotter refined his techniques and became a devastating force on both sides of the ball as Hodgson finished 11-2 and earned the school’s second Division II state championship.
Silver Eagles coach Frank Moffett saw Trotter getting bigger and stronger every season, but something was missing. The nose guard favored the swim move, constantly trying to raise an arm, then duck under opponents. It was a habit that had to be broken.
“His junior year, he used to go swimming,” Moffett said. “We used to tell him, ‘Stay away from the swimming pool.’
“There are other techniques you can use, because when you swim, you expose your body. You make it so much easier for the offensive lineman to block you. I think he took that personally. I told him, ‘Trot, no swimming this year.'”
Defensive line coach Dave Collins worked with Trotter daily. The themes: Be explosive, punch and use your hands to shed blocks.
“I make sure I put my hands on them first, before they get their hands on me,” Trotter said.
Once he perfected that, the sky was the limit. Trotter finished the season with 62 tackles – a stunning 28 of them behind the line of scrimmage. He swamped quarterbacks for six sacks and caused five fumbles.
“He was knocking people 2 or 3 yards into the backfield and making tackles in the backfield,” Moffett said. “We always say if you explode, if you create separation, you can get off the blocks. Once you let that lineman get into your chest, it’s hard to get away from him.”
Trotter learned how to read offensive linemen. He would see them tap each other or talk to each other, often revealing what was coming before the snap.
“Their hands and feet really let me know what they want to do,” Trotter said. “Some opponents might have all their weight forward, which means they’re coming straight for me. Some might lean back in their stance, and that means they might be pulling or it might be a pass play.”
So Trotter made sure not to tip his hand on offense, where he starred at guard. Offensive line coach Franz Kappel emphasized the importance of keeping his tree-trunk thighs and feet moving, and the attitude took care of the rest.
“He was a good pulling guard,” Moffett said. “When he came through, he was a load. If you were a linebacker looking at him, he was coming to put something on you.”
Junior center Jake Jones hosted a get-together the night before every game, joining tackles Dustin Bieski and Scott Corkadel, guards Dwight Chavis and Trotter and tight ends Bilal Nichols and Stephen Silan to go over the opponent and refresh their signals. They grew into a unit that allowed junior quarterback Ray Jones to pass for 1,389 yards and 20 touchdowns and rush for 1,151 yards and 19 more scores.
When the going got tough, the Silver Eagles knew where to go.
“Everyone has a tough side,” Moffett said. “A lot of times, we were running behind Trotter, Corkadel and Bilal. That was the strength of our offensive line.
“We were good on the other side, as well. But when it came crunch time, where were we going? We were going behind 79 [Trotter].”
Trotter has yet to decide on a college destination but wants to stay close to home. He declined to name the interested recruiters but said most college coaches project him as a defensive lineman.
It will be hard to top his final year of high school. Trotter missed last year’s Division II title game against Caravel due to a high ankle sprain, and the Silver Eagles lost 39-29. This year, he was in the middle of it all as Hodgson won its last 10 games and shut out vo-tech rival St. Georges 38-0 for the championship, holding the Hawks to minus-17 yards rushing.
“This year, it was really exciting because I was able to play,” Trotter said. “I was able to experience how it felt to actually play in the game, and then win. We all had one goal – to win.”
The Silver Eagles won, and Trotter had plenty of highlights. You can watch them at the banquet.