While the results look the same as they did at this time last year, Trivium Prep football’s 7-0 record is a bit different this time around.
The Knights, in their second year of 2A conference play after moving up from 1A, eight-man football, are attempting to defend last year’s 9-0 regular season. And they’re not taking anybody by surprise now. The new circumstances make the prospect of another undefeated record even sweeter.
“We’re feeling it a little bit more because we’re everybody’s revenge game this year, and we know we’re not able to sneak up on anyone anymore,” said coach Michael Spencer.
“The mindset is a little different knowing we’ve achieved a successful season. Defending versus never being there before is definitely a battle.”
But Trivium has persevered, winning a few close games and beating second-ranked Parker in early October. Part of the Crimson Knights’ success can be attributed to a change in offensive play calling.
Former quarterback Mason Moore threw for 22 touchdowns and over 1,600 yards in 2018, his senior season. Kade Gutierrez, the former starting fullback, switched to quarterback and has played admirably. But, the Knights have switched over to more of a run-heavy style.
The result has been a dominating rushing attack. Senior running back David Marquez has accumulated a 2A-high 1,439 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground through seven games, while Gutierrez has also tacked on 335 and nine scores. Furthermore, the offensive line loves the new style of play.
“It was mostly passing game last year, and that’s a lot easier for linemen. You just sit back and try to make sure no one gets past you,” said senior Dylan Wirth. “But the running game is where you can be aggressive and get pancakes (blocks) and that’s fun because you have a chance to show if you’re superior.”
The result is a No. 1 slot for three consecutive weeks in the official AIA 2A rankings. It is the first time the Crimson Knights have been placed atop the conference.
Spencer laughed when he said he and the coaching staff sat at the computer hitting the refresh button a few times to see exactly where Trivium was ranked the second they came out. No. 1 serves as a reward for the work the team has put in, especially the senior class. They are the first group that has played Trivium football for four years, seeing the growth from 1A eight-man ball to ranked this high over teams with long legacies in a bigger conference.
“There are teams in 2A that have been around forever, and have done some great things, but then there we are. We’re kind of a new dog in the house, so people have to take us seriously,” senior Nate Vasiloff said.
However, Spencer has told his players that being ranked No. 1 is “just something on a piece of paper.” There still is much to be done, including shoring up tackling, blocking and execution on a daily basis.
The Knights have been in this sort of position before. They were ranked No. 2 heading into the 2018 playoffs and won their first game, but were upset by No. 7 St. Johns in the second round.
Though a top-tier ranking is nice, the players believe it means little if they do not produce on the field.
“We have a chance to go two straight undefeated regular seasons, which is amazing,” Vasiloff said. “But we have to stay humble, because we want to go farther than the second rough of the playoffs and get a chance to try to beat St. Johns this time around.”