The record book shows Trinity will enter with a 22-4 all-time record in state championship games. Dixie Heights will be playing in its first final.
Brossart said those numbers aren’t meaningless.
“That’s my biggest worry,” Brossart said. “They have 22 state championships, and we’ve never even been there. They’re used to it. … There’s a mystique about Trinity. Up here (in Northern Kentucky) our version of that is Highlands. We’ve played Highlands, and I’ve seen our kids be defeated before they ever walked on the field.
“We have to overcome that.”
Records and rankings indicate the 6-A final – set for 7 p.m. EST Saturday at Houchens Industries/L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green – should be a competitive one. Trinity is 9-5 and No. 1 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings. Dixie Heights is 13-1 and ranked No. 5.
But a common story in state-final history is that of an upstart team with a gaudy record making its first appearance and falling flat on its face. Just last year Williamsburg reached its first-ever state final, fell behind 35-0 in the first quarter and lost to Mayfield 42-0 in the Class A final.
“There was nervousness and anxiety about us playing Trinity early in the week, but I think we’ve finally moved beyond that,” Brossart said Thursday. “We’ve had a couple of nice practices. … We talked about playing Trinity like it’s Week Four. We have to walk into that stadium and not be big-eyed and intimidated by the environment. If we can survive the first six minutes and settle in, we can be competitive.”
The Colonels enter with an impressive 13-game winning streak after dropping their season opener to Covington Catholic, 41-7. Dixie Heights has averaged 41 points over its four playoff games, including a 48-21 rout of Ballard in last week’s semifinals.
Senior quarterback Drew Moore is the key to the Colonels’ run-first attack, having rushed for 1,791 yards and 28 touchdowns and passed for 1,245 yards and 10 TDs. Brossart compared Moore’s style to that of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“He’s 6-4 and fast and shifty,” Brossart said. “He’s been making plays for us since his sophomore year … so he’s a confident kid. We run a veer-option play where he can give it or keep it around the end, and he’s made a living off that play this year. It’s tough to stop.”
But Brossart said his team hasn’t seen a defense as good as Trinity’s. The Shamrocks are allowing just 10.3 points per game in the playoffs and posted a 48-0 shutout of Meade County last week.
Senior lineman Landon Corolla (53) and junior linebacker Damon Lowe (52) lead the team in tackles, and senior linebacker Brenton Ervin has a team-best 8 ½ sacks. Already the team’s top wide receiver, junior Rodjay Burns recently has emerged as a solid defensive back and has a team-best four interceptions.
Shamrocks coach Bob Beatty said the key to the defense was getting healthy after allowing 35 points to both St. Xavier and Male in regular-season losses.
“Every season has a story,” Beatty said. “This season the story is that we got right at the right time.”
Beatty complimented his team for staying the course after a 5-5 regular season that included three losses to out-of-state powers.
All season he has talked about this team’s exemplary character and work ethic and went as far as to praise the players’ parents for being steadying influences.
“When things weren’t going well, they were there,” he said. “There was no putdown of our kids. There were no negative connotations from them. It was like, ‘Keep chopping. We’re going to be OK.’”
In 15 seasons as Trinity’s head coach, Beatty has lost just twice to Kentucky teams from outside of Jefferson County.
The first was a 42-29 loss to Highlands in his 2000 debut. The other was 14-10 loss to Dixie Heights in the second round of the 2004 Class 4-A playoffs. Saturday’s game will mark Trinity’s first meeting with Dixie Heights since 2004.
“People look at that, but I can’t even remember my name and how to get home, much less remember what happened 10 years ago,” Beatty said. “What is exciting is that we have somebody new that we’re playing against in the big dance. … This is a team we haven’t seen in 10 years. It’s exciting to go against somebody new, and they’re awfully good.”
Teams from Northern Kentucky are 0-6 all-time in big-school state finals. Previous runners-up were Simon Kenton (6-A, 2008), Ryle (4-A, 2006) and Boone County (4-A, 1994, 1992, 1987 and 1986).