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Trinity (Louisville) must replace 10 defensive starters from its 6A state champion team. At another school, that would be cause for alarm, or at least a sign of rebuilding.
This is how concerned the Shamrocks are. Trinity, the No. 2 team in USA TODAY Sports’ Super 25 preseason rankings, opens against Tennessee state champion Ensworth, ranked No. 18 in the Super 25. Two weeks later, the Shamrocks play No. 20 Lawrence Central (Indianapolis), the Indiana 5A champion, followed by No. 25 Colerain (Cincinnati). The Shamrocks close their regular season with Ohio state champion Moeller (Cincinnati).
“That schedule is not a fad,” Trinity coach Bob Beatty said. “That’s something you will see at Trinity from here on out. When you make a decision to play at Trinity, you make a commitment. In order to play that schedule, the kids get a month off and that’s it. If you can’t make that commitment, you can’t come to Trinity.”
The Shamrocks have won 22 state titles, including three in a row. Until the defense gets its feet wet, Trinity’s offense may have to carry things.
Starting at quarterback is Reggie Bonnafon, who was one of the team’s leading receivers (37 catches for 509 yards and six touchdowns) last year and has said he plans to sign with Louisville.
“He’s on schedule to play quarterback, but you really don’t find out the true test until when the lights are on,” Beatty said. “I think more than anything, he comes in with knowledge of our offense, having been a receiver.”
Bonnafon’s likely lead target will be Cody Swabek, but the Shamrocks’ offense generally spreads the ball to a multitude of receivers.
“Cody’s a tough kid. He brings an attitude to your team,” Beatty said. “He does everything right, but our offense doesn’t center around one guy. If you’re just throwing to one guy, you’re going to get beat.”
Another likely standout on offense is junior running back Donald Brooks, who has been playing with the varsity since he was a freshman.
“We wanted him to get used to varsity speed early,” Beatty said. “He started at slot for us last year and we felt he was a talented young man.”
Though the Shamrocks will be young, many of last year’s backups got plenty of playing time. Trinity went 13-1 last season to win the 6A title and outscored opponents by more than three touchdowns a game.
“I feel good about our offensive line and our defense is athletic and aggressive,” Beatty said. “We have a lot of kids who have seen varsity action. We have a tough early schedule. You find out nothing about your football team when you’re playing patsies early in the season. By the time we get ready to play our Kentucky teams, we’ll know what game speed is.”