Shamrocks, Beatty looking to make history
Not many would argue that Trinity High School and coach Bob Beatty are at the peak of high school football in Kentucky, but a victory Saturday night would give them the numbers to back it up.
The Shamrocks (14-0) – No. 1 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – will meet No. 10 Lafayette (13-1) at 9 p.m. EST in the Class 6-A state championship game in Bowling Green, and there will be plenty of history on the line:
* A victory would give Trinity its 24th state championship, breaking a tie with Highlands for the most in state history.
* A victory would give Beatty his 12th state title and the most for any coach in Kentucky history. He’s currently tied with Highlands’ Dale Mueller, who won 11 titles from 1996-2012 before retiring in 2013.
* With an all-time record of 599-160-7, Trinity is gunning for the 600th victory in program history. According to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association record book, Trinity would become the 17th program in state history to reach the milestone and the fastest to do so. The Shamrocks’ first season of varsity football was in 1955.
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Beatty isn’t keen on talking about such things and said he might address the milestones “after the game Saturday night.”
That focused approach also has trickled down to his players.
“It doesn’t change anything,” senior quarterback Spencer Blackburn said. “We still prepare the same way. … We’re still going to attack this game like it’s any other game and focus on us. If we go out and execute we’ll leave Saturday night with a smile on our face and a big trophy in our hands.”
Most outside of Lexington expect that will be the case for a Trinity team that has dominated Lafayette twice over the last two seasons, winning 70-14 in Louisville last season and 45-7 in Lexington earlier this season.
But Beatty is using recent history against rival St. Xavier as an example for his team to not take anyone lightly. Beatty said the Shamrocks had perhaps their best offensive game of the season in a 35-13 victory over the Tigers on Sept. 30 but struggled in last week’s rematch before pulling out a 24-14 win in the state semifinals.
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“We did what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it and executed very, very well,” Beatty said of the first St. X game. “You put on the film this last time and the only word I can think of is ‘sewer lagoon.’ … People don’t understand that when you play somebody twice, they’re going to do a better job of coaching. Hopefully we’re going to do a better job of coaching as well.”
Both Beatty and Blackburn questioned the team’s focus and effort after last week’s victory.
“We played hard enough to win, but we did not play well,” Beatty said. “It wasn’t like we laid down, but it’s human nature to say, ‘We played so well last time that it’s going to be easy.’ Well, it’s not. There’s nothing easy.”
If Trinity is not at its best Saturday night, Lafayette has enough firepower to take advantage.
Senior quarterback Walker Wood, a University of Kentucky commit, has passed for 2,866 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushed for 1,279 yards and 30 scores. Senior receiver Quinton Brown is a dangerous threat with 62 catches for 994 yards and 10 touchdowns.
And the line is anchored by 6-foot-4, 316-pound senior Jedrick Wills, who has committed to Alabama.
“Their quarterback can go,” Beatty said, “and they have some other people who can put points on the board in a hurry.”
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Lafayette coach Eric Shaw knows history on is on Trinity’s side but thinks his team will handle the state-final stage better than last season, when the Generals lost to Male 41-14.
“We have to not worry about who we’re playing and make sure we go out and match the physicality they bring,” Shaw said. “There was some defensive-alignment stuff we had to take care of from the first game, and I think we did that this week. … We just have to go out and play Lafayette football and be sound in what we do.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
CLASS 6-A STATE FOOTBALL FINAL
TRINITY VS. LAFAYETTE
When: 9 p.m. EST Saturday.
Where: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green.
TRINITY SHAMROCKS (14-0)
* Coach: Bob Beatty (17th year).
* Top rushers: Roderick Thomas (5-11, 200, Sr., 147 carries, 954 yards, 16 TDs); Jovan Smith (6-0, 190, Sr., 129 carries, 850 yards, 7 TDs); Spencer Blackburn (6-2, 180, Sr., 107 carries, 637 yards, 12 TDs).
* Top passer: Spencer Blackburn (6-2, 180, Sr., 160 of 234, 2,355 yards, 33 TDs, 3 INTs).
* Top receivers: Noah Ellison (6-1, 185, Sr., 41 catches, 511 yards, 9 TDs); Jovel Smith (6-0, 180, Sr., 30 catches, 492 yards, 5 TDs); Rondale Moore (5-8, 170, Jr., 15 catches, 327 yards, 8 TDs).
* Defensive leaders: Luke Eskins (6-0, 196, Sr., 38 tackles, 4 INTs); Nick Cardosi (5-10, 205, Jr., 37 tackles, 2 INTs); Stephen Herron (6-4, 220, So., 36 tackles); Isaac Martin (6-2, 235, Sr., 33 tackles); Zyan Bethal (5-9, 160, Sr., 33 tackles, 5 INTs).
* State-final history: Trinity is 23-4 all-time in state finals and tied with Highlands for the most championships in state history. The Shamrocks’ last trip to the state final was in 2014 when they beat Dixie Heights 47-14.
LAFAYETTE GENERALS (13-1)
* Coach: Eric Shaw (fourth year).
* Top rushers: Cameron Morgan (172 carries, 1,530 yards, 12 TDs); Walker Wood (184 carries, 1,279 yards, 30 TDs); Javarius Robinson (50 carries, 310 yards, 4 TDs).
* Top passer: Walker Wood (190 of 304, 2,866 yards, 29 TDs, 11 INTs).
* Top receivers: Quinton Brown (62 catches, 994 yards, 10 TDs); Matthew Guilfoil (37 catches, 606 yards, 6 TDs); TeAndre Newcomb (23 catches, 419 yards, 4 TDs); Dekwan Edwards (22 catches, 352 yards, 5 TDs).
* Defensive leaders: Ean Shaw (87 tackles, 3 INTs); TeJrin McCoy (59 tackles); Kuantaze Cooper (46 tackles, 5 INTs); Branden Layne (44 tackles, 1 INT); Jordan Thomas (36 tackles, 5 INTs).
* State-final history: Lafayette dropped to 0-3 all-time in state finals after last year’s 41-14 loss to Male. The Generals lost to Highlands in the 1960 Class 2-A final and to Trinity in the 1985 Class 4-A final.
The Shamrocks have put running-clock victories on the Generals the past two seasons, winning 70-14 last year in Louisville and 45-7 this year in Lexington. In neither of those games did Trinity have Rondale Moore, a speedy junior wide receiver who has electrified the Shamrocks offense. Look for Trinity coach Bob Beatty to get his 12th state title, which would break a tie with Highlands’ Dale Mueller for the most in state history.
Trinity 49-14. Shamrocks complete first perfect season since 2011.