Trinity Wildcats – Football

 

    For the first time in 29 years, Randy Ragsdale won’t be standing on the sideline at Boykin Field on Friday night.

Barry Loyal, who played at Trinity and served as Ragsdale’s offensive coordinator for five years, views it more as a continuation of the Wildcats’ tradition than any earth-shattering event.

“I never really got that feeling,” Loyal said. “I don’t feel like I’m replacing anybody. Older (former) players that I’ve talked to, the things we’re doing they’re excited about. I’ve gone out and sought advice, what’s your perspective?”

Loyal knew the veteran assistant coaches from his time as an offensive coordinator (2000-05) but his perspective of the current players came after three days of spring practice and dissecting every piece of 2016 video of a 3-7 season, the first losing regular season at Trinity since 1981 that came as a result of the worst start (0-5) in school history.

“I think (the major difference is) just the overall intensity level of every single thing that we do,” Loyal said. “It’s not where we want it to be but on the practice field you’re holding everybody accountable on what to do. So hopefully that has elevated the attention to detail. That’s the thing I’ve tried to focus on. Whether it was lacking or not, I really don’t know but that’s what we’ve tried to focus on.”

Senior receiver Sage Clingan, a running back last year, said this year’s August practice was a far cry from 2016.

Wide receiver Luke Hufham (gloves on) practices coming
off the line of scrimmage

“It’s totally different out there,” he said. “You start, of course, with Coach Loyal. Honestly, from my perspective, it’s just gotten a lot more physical out there, really getting after it with each other. Everything has just been a lot more up-pace.

“And we’re changing a lot. We’re passing a lot more and I think the passing is going to be a lot more successful this year. “

Loyal worked all four quarterbacks – juniors Trace Bright and Rob Chandler and sophomore Jack Collett and John David Richards – throughout the early part of August but was expected to choose between Bright and Chandler as the starter. That was the head coach’s idea, trying to put his players in drills where the competition would determine the most suitable starter.

Of course, Trinity’s success will be determined in the trenches. While the defensive front held its own for the most part last season, the offense had trouble moving the ball.

“It’s almost like we’d choke sometimes,” Clingan said. “We would sometimes drive all the way down to the goal line and just literally choke. We’d run the ball and just get stuffed. Our defense has always been good and I think this year will be very, very good with … those two safeties (Jackson Davis and Max Williams) and the linebackers (Tyler Britton and Caleb Kreitz) right now. The linebackers are just stacked, so hopefully we’ll be able to stop (opponents) but the offense just had no momentum last year.

“But now, new coach, new year and everything, we’ve got that going. I think it’s going to be great.”

Trinity first year head coach Barry Loyal watches QB Rob Chandler during an afternoon drill.

Loyal admits a tough schedule will find the Wildcats overmatched at times, but blocking schemes can help and finding enough depth to rest players will be crucial.

“That focus has been there to develop that all summer,” Loyal said. “Developing the guys that may not be two-way players and developing the conditioning for some of those guys that have to play on both sides multiple snaps.”

Defensively, Loyal feels his team has demonstrated in practice a determination to be more physical this fall.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the intensity from that side of the ball will be different, even more so than it has in the past,” he said, “just because a couple of those guys over there are strikers, especially our two safeties (Jackson Davis and Max Williams).”

The Wildcats’ 0-5 start last year matched a similar start in 1974. Only once (1974) has a Trinity team posted fewer wins than in 2016. The Wildcats went 1-3 against Capital City Conference teams, losing to Alabama Christian for the first time since 1998, to Catholic for the first time since 1989 and to St. James for the first time since 2005.

That unexpected view of looking up at the other teams in the city – and the region – gives the Wildcats a little more of a carefree attitude.

“I think we’re going to take some chances,” Clingan said. “We’ve been really focusing on our routes a lot harder than last year, like really getting our technique down, and I think that’s been helping with our throwing a lot.”

Carefree or not, the Wildcats face the same challenges as 2016 with a rugged schedule that includes the season opener at Jacksonville, the home opener with Andalusia and the region opener at Dale County in a three-week span.

“I think playing two of the best teams at first, it’s going to be a tough game,” Clingan said, “but if we get out there and get working and try to get better and not let the mindset that these teams are better than us, just do what we do, it’s going to be an interesting game. It’s going to be good.”

 

2017 Roster

2  Rob Chandler

3  McKay Taylor

4  Trace Bright

5  John David Richards

6  Luke Hufham

7  Edward Rutland

8  Sam Farris

9  Jack Collett

10  Jon Everett Dennis

11  Camden Lovrich

12  John David Bonner

13  James Davis

14  Jack Singletary

15  Nexton Marshall

16  Davis Ladner

17  Tate Holley

18  Max Williams

19  Sage Clingan

20  Thomas Hargrove

21  Mac Parsons

23  Coleman Ellis

24  Jim Portis

25  Thomas Ladner

26  Jackson Davis

27  James Handey

28  Chase Bulmer

29  Griffin Sanders

30  Jonathon Green

31  Nolan Sasser

32  Coleman Morris

33  Tyler Britton

35  Bryce Kelly

36  Jake Hufham

38  Chapman Gregory

39  Jackson Windham

40  Coleman Ingram

41  Graves Aughtman

42  Will Eagerton

43  Bodie Blissitte

44  Josh Hynniman

45  Connor Hayes

46  Scott Chesnutt

47  Ben Martin

48  Mays McMillan

49  William Roberson

50  Bracken Osmer

51  Coston Stricklin

52  Chad Norris

53  Caleb Kreitz

54  Jackson Younger

55  Kylar Williamson

56  Walton Cherry

57  Hampton Bopp

58  Sam Rowell

59  Paul Bishop

60  Colton Fuller

62  Will Chandler

63  Andrew McNees

64  Reese Lynch

65  Trace Patterson

67  Bryson Byrne

68  Porter Birmingham

70  Will Merrill

71  Ben Loftis

72  Will Meany

73  Carter Grice

77  Watkins Johnston

79  Hampton McDuffee

80  Peyton Parkman

81  Sam Worthington

82  John Wesley Loard

83  Preston Berry

88  Jay Tymes

89  Parker Patterson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *