With their eyes on a national ranking, the Tigers football team opened the season with a close battle vs. the Bulldogs from Redlands University. This year, Trinity football is poised to make a run at national prominence and has acquired serious attention from their SCAC opponents. With great senior leadership on defense, the Tigers are very optimistic about this season.
The Tigers are hungry for improvement, following an eight win season in 2015. First year starting quarterback Austin Grauer spoke to the potential this squad has.
“I think we had a really good off season. Guys really came together and pushed it in all of our workouts and I think it paid off,” Grauer said. “I think we’re a really tight group, and I think it shows when we play. Our team chemistry is one of our biggest strengths. This first game we’re just trying to focus on us, and I think that we are much better when we stick to what we do best.”
It took everything they had, as they squeaked out with a win, 34-27. The offense was firing on all cylinders, made evident by the 34 points scored over the course of the game. With 110 rushing yards and 217 passing yards, the Tigers’ offense was balanced and efficient. Their run defense was stout, only allowing 59 rushing yards, but the secondary struggled. Redlands had 385 passing yards, accounting for nearly their entire offensive output. Fortunately, the Tiger defense had enough stops by the end of the game, earning that crucial season opening victory.
The Tigers started strong, jumping out to a 20 to 3 lead in the first half. It was clear they were locked in, but they may have let the foot off the gas as the game got much tighter during the second half. Senior defensive back Brad Hood liked the way they started the game, but recognizes the a clear need for improvement.
“For this upcoming week we have to improve on special teams. We had several mistakes that really affected field position but those mistakes are easily correctable. There are some very athletic young guys that I have complete confidence in and I expect that several older guys who are key leaders on special teams will step up and get those errors fixed,” Hood said.
At the same time, he is impressed with how the guys played on both sides of the ball. He believes achieving a quality balance is of paramount importance in the playoff hunt.
“As a team, our biggest strengths are our speed, discipline, and chemistry. Offensively, we were able to meet one third of last year’s total for explosive plays in just one game. Defensively, we’ve had a core group of guys playing together for several years. Provided that, our communication and confidence in each other allowed us to play fast and set the tone for a great year,” said Hood.
Senior linebacker and preseason all American Julian Turner shared this sentiment with Hood.
“Coming into the game, we were confident that we were prepared and ready to come out with a win. We have a lot of returners and leadership on our team. We know what we need to do, but as for what we can improve on, I think we need to focus on getting our young guys acclimated and executing on special teams,” said Turner.
With this win against Redlands, the Tiger football team has now been victorious in 24 of their last 25 home openers, going all the way back to the 1992 season. This upcoming week, the Tigers will be tested in enemy territory. They are traveling to Jackson, Mississippi to take on Millsaps college at 1 p.m. this Saturday in an effort to achieve a winning streak early in the year.