Not considered a state title favorite as preceding teams had been, Trinity Christian Academy football in 2015 gained believers week by week.
The Lions turned an 0-4 start into a decent record and later a good one, playing better football and finding their way to the Class 2A state semifinals.
It ended quickly and convincingly Friday night, Jackson’s final high school football game of 2015 reflecting less of the Lions’ progress and more of visiting Memphis Trezevant’s strengths.
Trezevant pummeled TCA 52-14 to advance to the Class 2A championship game against Marion County next week in Cookeville.
The visiting Bears (11-3) made a statement as soon as possible, as star running back Cordarrian Richardson ran 72 yards on the game’s first play. Trezevant scored two plays later on a Jutarin Malone keeper for an 8-0 lead.
In the first half alone, Malone threw a touchdown pass to Xavier Green and ran twice for scores, the latter a 58-yarder in which he avoided a sure sack, reversed field multiple times and finally ran alone in open field.
It was reminiscent of Seneca Wallace’s famous run for Iowa State several years ago, but from much farther away.
Richardson and Reed each had touchdown runs and Trezevant led 44-6 at halftime.
Trinity’s prospects in an already difficult game worsened dramatically earlier in the week with the news Andrew Goldsmith’s injury was a knee strain that was going to keep him from playing.
“He’s one of our emotional leaders,” TCA coach Blake Butler said. “Him and Eli Parker are our two captains. And any time you have a captain, let alone a very talented athlete, go down, it can be kind of an emotional hit.”
The Bears had little trouble opening holes for their running backs.
“We don’t want to blame anyone, but when you get down your depth chart and you only have a 36-man roster, then you’re starting to play kids that may or may not be ready yet, that are going to be good players,” Butler said.
“I think that’s what really hurt us. Yeah, he’s a playmaker on offense, and we didn’t finish drives sometimes tonight when he may have been able to score, but the biggest thing was I think really getting the defense going.”
TCA’s scores consisted of a Tristan Bonstetter 10-yard touchdown pass to Eli Parker on the Lions’ first drive and a Bonstetter 26-yard touchdown pass to Sergio Pagoaga on the final one. A 2-point conversion pass to Parker was TCA’s final offensive play of the year.
Greyson Long and Chris Tucker had a handful of good plays for TCA (8-6), too.
Trezevant outscored Oakhaven and Douglass 106-0 in the first two rounds before escaping Manassas last week by two.
“Last week we weren’t mentally prepared at all … We barely got out of there 22-20, and it was just telling these guys you can not do that in this type of game,” Trezevant coach Teli White said. “In these types of games right here you’ve got to make sure you’re doing your part.”
The Bears are back in a state final after making it as a 4A school last year and in 2010. White said he has two seniors who play, and it’s important for young players to see Trezevant’s success and be motivated by it.
“They get to be in 11th grade, they need to understand that, man, this is what we do,” White said. “We don’t stop in October. We finish in November. We finish in December.”
Craig Thomas, 425-9634