The 2019 varsity football season is only days away, and the Trinity Christian Academy Conquerors are eager to make another run at a state championship. The Conquerors finished 13-1 and reached the Class 5A state semifinal a year ago, and they are primed for another terrific season. Success will not come easily, however, as the Conquerors have one of the toughest schedules in Florida. This year’s opponents averaged nine wins a year ago, and all made it deep into the playoffs.
Conquerors head coach Verlon Dorminey (29th season) called the 2018 season both rewarding and disappointing. The 13-1 overall record looks great on paper, especially considering the formidable competition of Class 5A. However, that lone loss came in the state semifinal. “The season ended on a negative thought, but we were still 13-1,” Coach Dorminey said. “It depends on where that one loss came, and it came in the state semifinal. The kids did a great job, and we hate to be negative. We focus on the positives and the upswing of how well we played all season.”
Key Returning Players
Junior quarterback Jacory Jordan threw for 2,385 yards and 27 touchdowns while earning a quarterback rating of 116.3 a year ago, and he will work with new receivers in 2019.
Seniors Miles Brooks (Georgia Tech commit) and Fred Davis (Clemson) could play both ways as cornerbacks and receivers, but that is still undecided.
Helping Jordan on the offensive line are senior Josh Luxenberg at center, seniors Kanyan James and Dylan Masters at guard, and incoming junior Austin Barber and sophomore Michael Trimble at tackle -- all of whom will help lead one the toughest offensive fronts in Florida under offensive line coach David Burdetsky.
Junior Kaleb Killian and freshman Treyaun Webb will head the rushing attack. Killian totaled 363 yards and 5 touchdowns on 52 carries last year while Webb amassed 306 yards and 4 scores on 42 carries as an 8th-grader. Webb already has offers from several D-1 schools, most notably the University of Miami (Florida).
Senior Clayton Roerig returns as the place kicker and punter. Roerig was 69 for 72 (96%) in extra points in 2018. He had 14 touchbacks on kickoffs and pinned the opposition inside the 20-yard line 9 times in 26 punts. Junior Caleb Stevenson also kicks and punts, and he is more than capable of stepping in at any time.
Defensively, senior Clayton Thomas and junior Simmeon Davis will work the line alongside senior nose guard William Tippens. Seniors Donald Clea (LB/S) and George Hawkins (OLB) and junior C.J. Ross (SS/OLB) will bolster the defensive backfield. Tippens had 56 tackles (26 solo) and 4.5 sacks in 2018, and Ross had 43 tackles (26 solo) while Clea had 23 tackles with 5 of those for loss.
Senior Latrell Wade (OLB) had 5 sacks and will be a defensive leader in his final season.
Junior wide receiver Marcus Burke will become a go-to target in the receiving game in 2019. Seniors Kyjuan Herndon (RB) and Triston Herndon (LB) are also big additions on each side of the ball, and senior defensive lineman Mitchell Bishop has moved in from South Carolina.
Other new Conquerors who plan to figure mightily in a championship run include senior offensive tackle Dylan Masters, senior linebacker Travis Moss, and senior running back Pedro Velez.
Coach Dorminey explained why he complied such a rigorous schedule, and it is largely due to Trinity’s reclassification into 3A for 2019 and 2020. “We have no district games in 3A, so we have no automatic opponents,” he said. “We have to find teams to play on our own. Bigger, larger schools also want to play tough competition, and the other teams are in the same situation.”
The players also like the level of competition they will face. “They are excited and looking forward to it,” Dorminey said. “They know they have to be able to beat the best in order to succeed in the postseason and win a state championship.”
No single opponent this year stands out as Trinity’s rival because of the strength of all teams and the preparation they will provide the Conquerors for the playoffs. “There are no natural rivals because we have no district, and we play only three local opponents we haven’t played much before. We are excited to get started.”
The biggest challenges for the Conquerors in preparing for the season include fitting all players into the right spots and avoiding injuries. “If everyone follows through and stays healthy," said Dorminey, "we will have 25 seniors and 22 juniors” who bring a plethora of playoff experience. Most of the seniors have a state championship ring from 2016. The Conquerors also have 13 sophomores, 5 freshmen, and 1 eighth-grader (J.D. Coxwell); all could get ample playing time, particularly Webb.
The Conquerors have very few holes, if any. If necessary, though, Coach Dorminey knows he can call up players from his junior varsity squad to fill any void whether long- or short-term. “The JV players are working hard to fill those holes and move up onto the varsity roster,” he said. “They are a great group themselves -- and on the middle school roster as well. We have about 40 players on the middle school team.”
Several Conquerors offered their thoughts on the upcoming season and indicated their eagerness to get started.
Senior NG William Tippens: “We are looking forward to the season, and we are ready to come together as a team. We’re happy for the new season; it’s going to be a crazy year!
Senior LB Latrell Wade: “We have the toughest schedule Trinity has ever had, but we have great coaches and great players --- and not just on the field. I am recovering from my leg injury, and I am excited for what will be a great season. Bring your popcorn!"
Junior QB Jacory Jordan: “We will work as a team, come together, work together, and genuinely care about each other to get through the adversity we will face. We'll likely play many close games, so we have to recover from any mistakes and cut down on penalties.”
Incoming senior RB/slot receiver Pedro Velez: “I like the energy that Trinity brings. Everyone pushes each other in a positive way. Everything fits together like a puzzle. Opportunity and exposure brought me to Trinity, and I am ready to be a part of it.”
Defensive backs coach Matt Hardy: “This will be a fun season and big challenge as a team. It will certainly test our character and will. We have great comradery as a team, and these guys will be ready. We had good summer workouts, and we’re ready for all the challenges.”
Senior cornerback Miles Brooks: “We are going to be really good. We have very good returning players. I may play both ways at cornerback and receiver. I really look forward to winning games with my teammates. I am playing this year for them. We WANT that state championship.”
That state championship would be the eighth for Coach Dorminey and the Conquerors.
PHOTOS: Trinity Christian Academy Football on Facebook.
Stats: Larry Withers, Trinity Christian Football statistician via MaxPreps
August 16 Terry Parker (preseason) 7:30 Home
August 23 Columbia 7:30 Away
(Columbia High School, Lake City)
August 29, Thur. Godby 7:00 Away
(Gene Cox Stadium, Tallahassee)
September 6 Ribault 7:30 Home
September 13 American Heritage (Plantation) 7:30 Home
September 20 Miami Carol City 7:30 Home
September 27 Pahokee 7:30 Home
October 3, Thur. Booker T. Washington 7:00 Away
(Traz Powell Stadium, Miami)
October 11 Colquitt County 7:30 Away
(Mack Tharpe Stadium, Moultrie, GA)
Oct. 17, Thur. Lee (Homecoming) 7:00 Home
October 25 Raines 7:00 Away
(Raines High School, Jacksonville)
November 1 Open
Last year’s graduates now playing in college
Marcus Crowley, Ohio State
Isaiah Washington: Rutgers
Dominique Killens: Delta State
C.J. Lockett: Valdosta State
Andrew Clark: Methodist
Stephen Williams II: Fordham
Trevon McClain: Mississippi Valley State
Malik Myers: Mississippi Valley State
TCA players currently in the NFL
Andre Smith, Carolina Panthers
Kevin Toliver, Chicago Bears
Isaiah Ford, Miami Dolphins
Jeff Holland, Denver Broncos
Kendrick Norton, Miami Dolphins (before injury)