Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher
Photos Courtesy of Trinity Wildcats Athletics
CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE – Second-year Trinity Presbyterian Football Coach brings with him a unique perspective. He’s a Trinity Alumni, a student-athlete Wildcat from long(ish) ago and has worked with a cult of football coaching personalities. Marrying all those elements together and the on-field result can be seen from week to week starting with the Wildcats’ run to the third round of the 3A AHSAA playoffs (ending with a loss to rival Montgomery Academy) to this season and a 3-0 start (including a win over the Eagles).
Shook: “Being a Trinity graduate, an alum, gives me a leg up in numerous ways. I can look them in the eye and tell them that I’ve had that same teacher they are struggling with. There’s not a lot of turnover here. It’s a great environment and a great workplace. I can look at the boys and tell them I’ve been there and done that. Doing that helps me be consistent in my level of expectations. That’s how it was when I was a player and I’ve been at other programs and watched how they ran things: The good and the bad. Here (at Trinity) I’m able to take those lessons and implement the things I liked about those programs. The administration has allowed me to bring in a lot of coaches and that’s been a key to our success.”
That success has shown on the scoreboard.
Shook: “I think our program hangs its hat on hard work. We are being consistent with expectations and the staff knows this. They are holding these young men accountable and letting them know we love them. But we have several coaches on this staff that are fathers; they have kids in middle school. Our Defensive Coordinator (John Shamburger) was the defensive coordinator when I played and he’s an alum. Last season we had Randy Ragsdale (Hall of Fame Trinity football coach) and Ken Whittle (Hall of Fame Trinity baseball coach) walking the halls and on staff was invaluable. Now still having Shamburger here is invaluable. We work with each other and not for each other. I want our staff to feel that each and every day. When staffs are cohesive and gel and genuinely enjoy being around each other, the kids in the locker room can feel it and vice versa when the coaching staff isn’t on the same page. We make sure to put our egos aside. Let’s not expect more out of these young men then we do ourselves.”
Right now – the expectation is to better themselves Monday through Thursday and Friday will take care of itself. With two wins in the column Trinity added a third this week. On Friday the Wildcats traveled down to the land’a’Goshen and clipped the Eagles wings, returning to Vaughn Road with a 55-0 win in tow. The Wildcats got off the bus at Goshen High’s football field and spent the first 24 minutes of Friday’s football game imposing their will on the hometown team; jumping ahead 35-0 after one quarter and then 49-0 at the break.
Shook: “We teach the boys to tune out the external factors. I’m talking about things like the scoreboard, the heat, the weather, the fans who are telling you that you’re better than you are. I think they’ve bought in to what the staff is trying to establish. It’s about establishing that mindset and that attitude where you aren’t focused on your opponent, but on yourself and us as a team. If we get better each and every day, Monday through Thursday, I feel good about our odds on Friday night.”
Quarterback Coleman Stanley is an example of that mentality. Against ACA he completed five passes for 65 yards and an interception; against MA he completed five passes for 53 yards and against Goshen he completed seven passes for 158 yards and three scores.
But a big factor to the Wildcats success is the ground game. Through three games Trinity has ran the ball a total of 96 times using a mixture of Chase Letner, Stanley and Jordan Ballard to the tune of 442 yards.
Shook: “We are on part, record-wise, with our expectations. We were not as physical as I wanted us to be (against ACA) but we were (against MA). We scored enough to win both games and we scored a lot more in week three. I think we are starting to come together (on offense) and the working parts (the quarterbacks and the skill positions) are starting to find their footing. Defensively we have played well despite a couple of plays and – in those games – they took advantage of those mistakes and used them against us. But I’ve been proud of how our defense has responded. I think our special teams have gotten a lot better and have been able to flip field position when we need it and have been able to get points too. But we hold these young men to a high expectation.”
Teaching the Wildcats to control the elements they can control will be vital this week as Beulah rolls in for homecoming week. The Bobcats (1-2, 1-0) knocked off Pike County last week, rebuffing their efforts to convert two points twice on the way to a 14-12 region victory.
Shook: Each week we get excited to go out and play in a very tough region and each game is more exciting. But this is homecoming week and that scares me, as a coach, because of all the distractions that come with it. We’ve got more pep rallies scheduled than you can shake a stick at this week. Then we’ve got the parades and the pictures, the Powder Puff games and late night pep rallies, if there is anything to take our mind off a football game it’s this week. But that’s something I’ve talked to the boys about (on Monday). The people that come back for homecoming are here to watch us play. If we don’t do well – there won’t be that excitement in the stands. If we want to be a championship program these young men are going to have to realize there are going to be some things you have to say no too. We are trying to make sure our players understand that to be champions they have to think like champions. Our seniors are in the halls more than me. They are in the locker rooms, the study sessions and in the places that I can’t be – they help me enforce that.”
Friday’s game kicks at 7 p.m.
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