Coach names Woosley starting quarterback
Two seasons ago the Trinity High School football team struggled through a 4-5 regular season and saw the year end with a loss to Male in the third round of the Class 6-A playoffs.
Last season the Shamrocks were 5-5 at the end of the regular season, caught fire in the playoffs and captured the program’s 23rd state title.
The difference, according to coach Bob Beatty, had little to do with X’s and O’s.
“Two years ago we had a group that wasn’t tight-knit together, and we ended the season 6-6,” Beatty said. “Last year was a group of kids who stayed together and a group of parents who stayed together. We fought through that adversity and got healthy and ended up designing a ring.”
As the 2015 opener approaches, Beatty is confident he once again has a close group that is capable of repeating as 6-A state champion. The Shamrocks certainly have plenty of talent and are expected to battle Male for the No. 1 state ranking this season.
Beatty said this year’s seniors learned from the team’s struggles with chemistry in 2013. He pointed to a recent practice when starting running back Jailen Reed was out and backup Jovan Smith was receiving the majority of carries.
“Jovan was down at practice,” Beatty said. “He said, ‘My guy’s not here to compete with me.’ You have to love that.”
Added senior linebacker Damon Lowe: “The big thing is leadership. Our sophomore year we really didn’t have it, but last year we stepped it up and won a state championship.”
The Shamrocks return 11 starters (six offense, five defense) from a 10-5 squad that rolled past Dixie Heights 47-14 in the state final.
The biggest question since that victory was who would start at quarterback this season, and Beatty believes he found an answer in last Friday’s 44-0 scrimmage victory over Henry Clay. Beatty said senior Jacob Woosley — at least for now — has won the job over junior Larry Harper III, who began last season as the starter before losing the job to Ryan Young (now a freshman at Butler University).
Woosley was a quarterback as a freshman before being moved to wide receiver the past two seasons. He had a 32-yard touchdown reception in last year’s state final.
Beatty said Woosley completed 9 of 10 passes in the Henry Clay scrimmage.
“The one incompletion was on a screen pass where the running back got held,” Beatty said. “He was smart enough to throw it into the ground and not take a loss. … He runs really well and has a good head on his shoulders. And he has a strong enough arm for what we require in our offense.”
He’ll have plenty of solid targets in the passing game, as three of the team’s top five receivers from last season return — seniors Rodjay Burns (47 catches, 718 yards, seven touchdowns), Dalton Jones (38-532-2) and Connor Carrico (21-380-2).
Top running back Donald Brooks was lost to graduation, but Beatty said he may have the deepest backfield he’s had at Trinity with Reed, Smith, Roderick Thomas and Manny Harper. Reed was Brooks’ top backup last season, rushing for 499 yards and eight TDs.
On defense, the Shamrocks return five of their top eight tacklers in linebackers Damon Lowe and Vincent Lococo, end Connor Foos, cornerback Burns and strong safety Luke Eskins. Lowe led the team last season with 57 ½ tackles and ranked second with 17 tackles for loss.
Trinity allowed just 11 points per game over its five playoff victories last season.
“The defense did win a lot of ballgames for us last year,” said Burns, who has committed to the University of Louisville. “We stayed together and never hung our heads. If the offense was down, we knew we had to step up and be a bigger part of the game.”
After playing several out-of-state teams in recent seasons, Trinity will face eight Kentucky opponents in 2015. Realignment placed Trinity in a district that also includes Ballard, Eastern, Jeffersontown and Seneca. The schedule also includes non-district games against Lafayette, Male, Pleasure Ridge Park and St. Xavier.
Beatty downplayed the significance of the schedule changes but did say he was pleased to eliminate traditional power Cincinnati Moeller as his team’s final opponent before the playoffs begin.
The Shamrocks open the season at home next Friday against Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth. Beatty may not know what to expect on the field, but he’s confident about the team’s makeup off of it.
“You can see the togetherness in this group,” he said. “They’re not a complainer group. They just get after you.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.