Shamrocks have posted six shutouts this season, including three straight
The schedule may not be the week-to-week grind it was in previous years, but the numbers show the Trinity High School football team’s defense is having a season to remember.
Entering Friday’s showdown against rival St. Xavier in the second round of the Class 6-A playoffs, the Shamrocks have posted six shutouts this season, including three in a row. They’re allowing 8.3 points per game, the lowest total in a season since the 2011 national championship squad also allowed 8.3.
Trinity coach Bob Beatty said he’s been pleased with the defense’s improvement through the season but added there’s still room for improvement. He hopes to see it Friday when the Shamrocks (10-1) – No. 2 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – face No. 5 St. X (7-4) at 7:30 p.m. at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
“I feel like we have a work in progress,” Beatty said. “We work extremely hard in tackling at each position, and I feel like we have improved on that from a year ago, except in (the 42-13 loss to Male on Sept. 11).”
MORE COVERAGE | Coach breaks down St. X-Trinity matchup
Beatty said his defense doesn’t have a star, but there are plenty of players enjoying solid seasons.
Linebacker Damon Lowe leads the squad with 47 tackles, including 22 ½ tackles for loss and four sacks. Linebacker Vincent Lococo has nine tackles for loss and three sacks. Juniors Luke Eskins and Zyan Bethel are tied for the team lead with four interceptions each, and University of Louisville commit Rodjay Burns has added three interceptions.
Beatty would not allow any of his players to speak to the media this week but praised each unit of his defense. A young defensive line has seen the biggest improvement this season.
“Those front guys do an outstanding job of keeping people off of those backers,” Beatty said. “Because of that, it’s a team-oriented defense. You’re not going to have a single star, and that’s what you want.”
Trinity’s defense was strong in a 20-15 victory over St. X on Oct. 2. The Shamrocks yielded just 145 total yards and intercepted St. X quarterback Desmond Ridder three times in the second half.
MORE COVERAGE | Ridder looking forward to another chance vs. Trinity
But Beatty was not pleased with the opening drive of the third quarter, during which St. X drove 64 yards in 13 plays and got a 25-yard field goal by Sam McDonogh to pull within 20-13.
“They took their drive and went down and kicked a field goal,” Beatty said. “A lot of defensive people would say, ‘You held them to a field goal.’ The question we ask is, ‘Why are they getting first downs?’ We have a little bit different mentality.”
The focus of the Trinity defense on Friday figures to be Ridder, who has passed for 1,125 yards and eight touchdowns this season also is the team’s leading rusher (598 yards, nine TDs).
Beatty said Ridder’s three second-half interceptions in the first meeting might have been a result of the wet conditions.
“That second half became extremely difficult to throw the football, as was witnessed by us,” Beatty said. “We had a terrible time handling the ball in the second half. …
“When you have a dual threat at quarterback – which his statistics speak for themselves – you obviously don’t have much room for error.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
GAME OF THE WEEK
* Who: St. Xavier (7-4) vs. Trinity (10-1).
* When: 7:30 p.m.
* Where: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
* Jason’s pick: Trinity 21-10.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Jailen Reed carried 34 times for 144 yards and three touchdowns as Trinity beat St. Xavier 20-15 on Oct. 2. Will the Tigers’ defense have an answer for Reed in the rematch?
- Can St. Xavier’s defense or special teams take some pressure off the offense by producing some points? The Tigers had trouble moving the ball against Trinity’s stout defense during the regular season.
- Can St. X finally get past Trinity in the playoffs. Since beating Trinity 34-10 in the 2009 Class 6-A state final, the Tigers are 0-4 against the Shamrocks in the postseason.