The teams will meet again at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in the Class 6-A, Region One final, and both could have different personnel at key positions.
Will Wolford’s Tigers dominated the regular-season meeting, jumping to a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter, but he doesn’t expect such a runaway in the rematch.
“It’s going to be our toughest game of the year,” Wolford said. “Beating anyone twice from our district is not easy, as we found out last week against Manual. Trinity is a lot better than they were the first time around.”
The game will match two of the top three teams in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, with Trinity (7-5) at No. 1 and St. X (8-4) at No. 3. The winner will travel to the winner of the Meade County-Central Hardin game in next week’s 6-A semifinals.
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Senior quarterback Noah Houk lifted St. X over Trinity in October, completing 9 of 20 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Blake Roshkowski added 96 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
Houk could be asked to carry the load again as the Tigers are hobbled at running back.
Leading rusher TaiJon Smith (706 yards, seven touchdowns) had just four carries for 1 yard in last week’s 12-7 victory over Manual and is battling a muscle strain. No. 2 rusher John Martinez (295 yards, two TDs) suffered a finger injury that recently required surgery. Wolford said both are questionable.
With Smith and Martinez out, Houk led the Tigers with 86 yards on 15 carries against Manual. Junior Chase Rowan (10 carries, 34 yards) and sophomore Sam Taylor (six carries, 11 yards) split time at running back.
“We have some depth there, and those guys worked out well,” Wolford said.
As St. X is battling injuries, Trinity is getting healthy. Senior defensive backs Canon Jackson and Alex Reisert missed the regular-season game with injuries, a factor Trinity coach Bob Beatty said the Tigers exploited with their passing game.
Both Jackson and Reisert are back and two-players Rodjay Burns and Santo Biddix have added depth and speed for a secondary that played a major role in last week’s 38-31 overtime victory over Male. Reisert had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown. Sophomore Luke Eskins, who gained valuable experience while Jackson and Reisert were out, had two interceptions, including the one that ended the game.
“He obviously wouldn’t be there if he’s not a competitor,” Beatty said of Eskins. “His maturation has been outstanding. He still has a ways to go, but he will fight you and battle you.”
Quarterback Ryan Young completed 22 of 36 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns against Male. Donald Brooks had a big game rushing (27 carries, 67 yards, one touchdown) and receiving (nine catches, 64 yards) while lining up at running back and at slot receiver to take advantage of mismatches.
Beatty said his team “stunk” against St. X in the regular season, pointing to his team’s 12 penalties and three turnovers.
He expects better in the rematch.
“What did we take away from that game that we can correct?” Beatty said. “That’s the key when you don’t come out on top in that regular-season game. You have to adjust and make changes, and I feel like we’ve made those.”