Trinity football is tackling a new conference this semester. With an influx of first-year players and new teams to face, Tiger football is changing the game.
Until recently, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference hosted all of Trinity’s varsity sports teams. However, this year the SCAC decided they did not have enough competing teams to support a functioning football league and dissolved the section. With the teams splitting into new divisions, the Tigers have left behind certain rivals and traditional face-offs, such as the Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs, but the players are excited to enter a larger and more competitive league.
“We’ve been playing in the SCAC for a long time. We got to know the same teams, so I’m excited about getting to play new teams and see the new competition,” said Reese Mathews, sophomore defensive end.
Tiger football has joined the Southern Athletic Association and the schedule has them facing teams such as Austin College, Berry College, Birmingham Southern College, Centre College, Hendrix College, Millsaps College, Rhodes College and Sewanee. The collective involves more interstate matchups and, as such, the Tigers will be traveling by air significantly more than they have in the past.
“We’ve got five away games and we are flying to all of them. I think we are all excited about traveling. Five flights is a big deal for a D-III school so we are excited to put our name out there, and we know that when we come home we will have people excited to welcome us back and see us play,” Mathews said.
The Tiger football team is taking to the air and stepping outside of Texas more often. The Trinity name will follow the team to new corners of the country.
“We are looking to be undefeated away and at home,” Mathews said.
The SAA football division is larger, newer and more nationally extensive than the SCAC. Head coach Jerheme Urban mentioned some of the benefits he has foreseen of joining a new and potentially more compatible league like the SAA.
“We’ll be seeing some tradition-rich rivalries within the SAA and getting back into a conference with schools that are academically aligned with Trinity,” Urban said.
The team, however, has focused sparingly on studying the new competition and has instead directed their attention towards strengthening their own team mentality and uniting their efforts. Though they’ve watched some footage of the new competitors, the players have firmly expressed their commitment to focusing on themselves and the games that are closer at hand.
“We’ve been focusing on ourselves, trying to get our techniques ready. We’ve been watching some footage on the other special teams but mostly we have been preparing for this scrimmage with TLU and then going up against Hendrix,” Mathews said.
Senior free safety Jordan Williams also spoke strongly on the team’s confidence and the importance of their head-game for the upcoming season and all the changes it will bring.
“We have a new mindset from last year. We’ve gone in with mindsets [that] win. We can’t win without having a relationship that shows on the field, in order to get the job done. The SAA is built upon harder teams that will bring the hat and the mentality to win. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy, but we have a team where we are all built on community, brotherhood and love,” Williams said.
Williams and Mathews, both returning players, are also excited for the first-year players who will enter the SAA with their arrival to Trinity. Though there is something to be said for nostalgia and tradition, both players believe that the conference change will offer more benefits than drawbacks for the first-year Tigers and the future of Tiger football.
“It was cool for me last year to see how we played against TLU and Southwestern, so the freshmen might miss out on that but it’s cool for them because they get to come in right with the new change and this new conference will be regular for them,” Mathews said.
The Tigers seem to show no hesitation upon entering a new, bigger and more competitive league. Rather, the team shows excitement for the competition, confidence in their program and pride in each other.
“We’re excited to be out there on the field and do what we do best, which is win,” Williams said.