It wasn’t the result we all wanted, but the FHSAA Class 5A State Semifinal gave us a thrilling performance from both teams involved. North Marion scored the game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds left, and the Colts defense held off Trinity’s last-ditch effort to earn the win by a final score of 29-25.
Clayton Roerig converted a 32-yard field goal to give the Conquerors a 25-22 lead with 1:37 left to play. North Marion’s Jyron Gilmore returned the ensuing kickoff to the Trinity 45, and quarterback Corey Wilsher made two perfect passes to his main receiver, Brenden Shipp, to highlight the game-winning drive. The first pass went for 28 yards to the 17, and the second hit Shipp in the back left corner of the end zone for the touchdown.
After a scoreless first quarter, Trinity scored on Marcus Crowley’s 17-yard run. North Marion then tied the score and took the lead with two touchdown passes to Shipp – one from Wilsher and one from Buc Offord off a lateral -- and led 14-7 at the half.
Trinity came back and took the lead in the third when Crowley ran in from 12 yards and then took in the two-point conversion. Jacory Jordan hit Isaiah Washington from 8 yards out at the end of the third, and the Conquerors led 22-14.
Wilsher’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Jaree Turner tied the score at 22-22.
The 2018 Conquerors -- led by Coach Verlon Dorminey in his 28th year at the helm -- finished their season 13-1 and reached the state semifinal for the fifth time in the last six years. They ended the regular season undefeated at 10-0 and earned the top seed in Region 1. They also secured the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Sophomore Jacory Jordan finished with 2,385 yards passing and threw for 27 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions -- plus a quarterback rating of 116.3 -- in 14 games in his first season as the varsity quarterback.
Receivers Isaiah Washington, Dreshawn Dawkins, and Malik Myers combined for 111 receptions for 1,957 yards and 23 touchdowns. Washington led with 46 catches for 924 yards and 14 touchdowns while Dawkins had a similar line of 33, 551, 4 and Myers finished with 32, 482, and 5.
Defensively, Andrew Brown led the team with 120 total tackles and 70 solo while Stephen Williams II followed with 42 solo tackles as part of his 94 total. Jonathan Ealey sacked the quarterback 9.5 times, and Brown was in on 8.0 sacks. As a team, the Conquerors' defense racked up 48 quarterback sacks, which made up nearly half of 100 total tackles for loss. Brown (21.5), Ealey (18.0), and Trevon McClain (10.0) led in tackles for loss while William Tippens (9.0) and Latrell Wade (7.5) also had numerous TFL’s on defense.
Williams picked off 5 total passes on the season, including a pair that he returned for touchdowns in the opening round of the playoffs. Brown (3), Lattimore (2), Jahron Williams and Fred Davis also picked off at least one pass. George Hawkins returned two fumbles for touchdowns, and Tippens and Latimore led the team with three fumble recoveries each.
Overall, the defense scored four touchdowns and forced four safeties.
Kicker Clayton Roerig was 69 for 72 (96%) in extra-point attempts and scored 81 points overall.
The Conquerors scored 74 touchdowns in 14 games for an average of 5.29 TD’s per game. The average game score was 38-12.
Marcus Crowley scored 42% of the team’s touchdowns with 28 of them on the ground. He compiled 2,325 yards on 222 carries for an average of 10.5 yards per carry. His season-long performance earned him the 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year. Crowley is the second TCA Conqueror to win the award (Shaun Wade, 2015).
For his high-school career, Crowley rushed for over 4,096 yards and scored 47 touchdowns on the ground out of 50 total. Crowley has committed to play football at Ohio State University, joining former TCA teammates Shaun Wade and Tyreke Johnson.
Up-and-coming sophomore Kaleb Killian totaled 363 yards and 5 touchdowns on 52 carries, and current eighth-grader Treyaun Webb tallied 306 yards and scored four times on 42 rushes. Even with Crowley graduating, the future looks very nice in the hands of these rising stars.
Of course, without the play of one of the best offensive lines in the entire state, none of these offensive accomplishments would have occurred.
The offensive line combinations of Kanyan James, Clayton Thomas, Andrew Clark, Josh Luxenberg, Darius Banks, Jackson Strayer, Isaiah Thomas, Wyatt Pennybaker, Simmeon Davis, and Michael Trimble made it possible for the ball handlers to put up such prodigious numbers.
Crowley will head to Ohio State at the end of the fall semester. When asked about his time as a TCA Conqueror, the importance of teamwork, and a final thought on this season, he offered the following words:
“My experience with TCA football was amazing. All four years of attending Trinity and playing football here was the best thing to happen to me. It opened up many opportunities and allowed me to meet amazing people.
Teamwork is very important; without teamwork, we would not have made it into the fourth round of the playoffs. The communication and teamwork on the offensive line was the main reason I was able to run like I did.
The season went great; it was the best season I have had with a team despite the loss. It was fun, and I loved it.”
When asked why he chose Ohio State University, Marcus answered, “I feel like they offer the best opportunity for me to accomplish my dreams of reaching the NFL. I also feel as if The Ohio State University will allow me to be successful academically.”
Congratulations to the 2018 Trinity Christian Academy Conquerors, the Class 5A, District 4 champions and state semifinal participants.
--Raymond Bureau, TCA Conquerors Athletics
PHOTOS: Steve Meadows et. al., Trinity Christian Academy Football on Facebook