Garrett Griffin is making a strong statement to repeat as an all-Ohio quarterback.
His playoff dream is not so farfetched, even for a program that just two years ago snapped a 22-game losing streak and spent 15 years without a winning season.
The National Trail football team had its first winning season since 1998 last year, and the Blazers are not satisfied.
With Griffin under center, the Blazers are on path for another and are making a possible run at the OHSAA football playoffs. The Blazers are currently fifth in computer points in Division VI Region 22.
Griffin has been a big part of that. Last Friday, the junior tied an Ohio record with nine passing touchdowns in a game as Trail beat Cross County Conference foe Ansonia 67-30. He also rushed for one score.
“It’s just an outstanding performance,” National Trail coach Tony Sonsini said. “He threw the ball really well, the receivers and linemen did their job — it’s just a great recognition for Trail to have an outstanding performance like that.”
After the Blazers stopped the Tigers in the game’s opening drive, Griffin went to work and connected with Devin Mize on Trail’s first offensive play for his first touchdown.
“We came out and we took the momentum from the start,” Griffin said. “… It’s nice. I couldn’t do it on my own. My line did a wonderful job. I give them complete credit and my receivers did an awesome job.”
Griffin connected with Mize and Phillip White on three scores each, threw two to Josh Lee and tossed one to Bailey Stewart. He passed for 416 yards.
Griffin has 1,492 yards passing this season, a year after throwing for 2,112 and 16 touchdowns.
He already has 22 touchdown passes over five games this season and has surpassed National Trail’s career record, which Sonsini said was 22.
That’s in part due to the Blazers changing their approach.
“We’re pretty much wide-open,” Sonsini said. “We throw the ball 75 percent of the time. When I took over, they would run about 90 percent of the time, so we totally flipped the game plan. It’s nice when we’ve got a quarterback that can make big plays like Garrett.”
Sonsini and Griffin give credit to his teammates, as well.
Nick Davis, Davis Baker, Adam Behringer, Josh Baker and Tyler Glander are Trail’s starting offensive linemen and all have been vital to the team’s success.
“We have a lot more support — win or lose — we always have great fan support and it’s a positive atmosphere, so it’s really nice,” Griffin said of the team’s turnaround in the past two years.
The Blazers, though, keep their focus on each game. This week’s is a trip to CCC foe Arcanum. Trail is 4-1 overall, 2-1 in the CCC.
“We need another great performance from Garrett and the offensive line and Arcanum’s a very good team,” Sonsini said. “They’ve played the top three teams in the conference in (Tri-County) North, (Miami) East and Covington and they’re looking to rebound. They beat (Twin Valley) South, they’re 2-3 and on the way up.”
Griffin said staying humble has been key in the team’s turnaround.
“As a team, I’d say definitely playoffs are a possibility, make it as far as we possibly can,” he said. “As of right now, that is very realistic. I see us as top three, four teams in the conference.
” … (We need to just) stay focused and anything bad happens just let it go and move on to the next play.”