Trinity offense boosts confidence in St. X win

Trinity offense boosts confidence in St. X win

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Trinity offense boosts confidence in St. X win

An aggressive rushing game for Shamrocks keys rivalry victory

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An aggressive rushing game for Shamrocks keys rivalry victory

At the end of last season, Trinity football coach Bob Beatty stressed offensive aggression as a key focus going forward. In Friday night’s 35-13 win over St. Xavier, Beatty got his wish.

Trinity running back Jovan Smith avoids the outstretched arms of St.Xavier's defensive lineman Andrew Uhls. 30 September 2016 David R. Lutman/Special to The CJ

Trinity running back Jovan Smith avoids the outstretched arms of St.Xavier’s defensive lineman Andrew Uhls. 30 September 2016 David R. Lutman/Special to The CJ

Even as the Trinity defense limited St. Xavier to just 13 points, it was the offense that shined brightest. The trio of quarterback Spencer Blackburn and running backs Roderick Thomas and Jovan Smith accounted for all 287 of Trinity’s net rushing yards.

In recent weeks, Beatty had voiced his displeasure with his offensive line, a worry compounded by the injury of starting right tackle Thomas Crawford. But the coach said he was proud of how his team reacted against St. Xavier.

“When there’s an open door you don’t hang your head,” Beatty said. “You look at it as a chance to improve.”

The Shamrocks’ offensive line, which included right tackle John Lage starting in place of the injured Crawford, was remarkably efficient. Or delightfully inefficient, depending on how you look at it. On its opening drive of each half, Trinity managed to score while eating up more than five minutes of clock.

“We feel like one of the best-conditioned teams in the state, and we use that to our advantage to make the other teams fatigued,” Blackburn said.

Entering Friday’s rivalry game, the Tigers’ defense had allowed an average of 79.4 rushing yards per game. Friday night, the Shamrocks offense blew that number up by 150 percent — in the first half alone.

Blackburn was quick to point out that while Trinity is not a young team (he, Thomas and Smith are all seniors), they are still inexperienced.

There may be no better example of this than wide receiver Noah Ellison. After Trinity lost its four top receivers, Ellison was the top returner at the position. Nevermind that he actually played tight end last season; Ellison came through with 32 receiving yards and two touchdown catches Friday. This season, the senior has more than doubled his output from 2015, racking up 29 catches, 359 yards and six touchdowns.

“I think it was a confidence thing,” Ellison said of his improvement. “The other part is just me and Blackburn getting together during practice and working on what we need to work on.”

What Ellison and the Shamrocks may find after Friday night: it’s amazing what a win in a rivalry game can do for your confidence.

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