Now, they’ve got a chance to do something the ‘Cats haven’t done since 2001 – beat Owensboro Catholic in the playoffs.
“Our guys are motivated and ready to play, and they’ve got as much heart as any group I’ve ever coached,” Trigg head coach Shannon Burcham said. “We’ve got some guys that we knew had the age but we didn’t know if they had enough experience. I couldn’t be prouder of that group of seniors and the way they’ve worked and responded all season.”
Last year, Trigg led the Aces by 14 at halftime but lost after Owensboro Catholic’s adjustments led to a come-from-behind 28-21 win in the second round.
“Nobody’s thought more about that than me, and the kids remember it,” Burcham said. “It gives us a lot of motivation, and we’re glad to have the chance.”
The Aces employ a strong passing attack led by quarterback Evan Harvey and receivers Cole Sturgeon and Masden Riney. Running backs Russel Hayden and Spencer Hayden pose threats in the backfield.
“It’s still Owensboro Catholic; they’re still a good team,” Burchama said. “We’d like nothing more than to beat them, but we know things happen every time we play them.”
O’Cath went 3-7 this season, but Burcham said the Aces’ level of competition is always tough, making their record somewhat deceiving.
“Their schedule is as good as it gets in 2A,” Burcham said. “When they hit the playoffs, they’re ready to play.”
Entering this season, Burcham and his coaching staff expected their players to have a solid passing attack. While junior quarterback Andrew Stewart has had some success so far, it’s been the running game Trigg has leaned on all year.
“We knew we had one good running back in Akeem Wilson,” Burcham said. “We knew Josh Adams hadn’t done it in quite some time, and Dillon Cionko had done it in summer ball but not at the varsity level. During the summer, we threw and caught the ball very well, but when you put the pads on, there’s so many variables – if you don’t run the right route, don’t have good pass protection, can’t catch the ball. We decided to find something we could be successful with, and running the ball was it. We knew we had an offensive line that would block.”
Burcham said that offensive line has graded well all season, led by seniors Tavaras Poindexter, Andre Wright, Javin Grubbs, Jay Moore and junior Chris McKenzie.
“We’ve got two guards in Javin and Tavaras that I’d put up against any we’ve ever had,” Burcham said. “Andre is very intelligent. Jay would have started last year but wasn’t with the team, but he came back this year and earned a starting spot. Chris has had to grow, mature and take on more responsibility, and he’s done that well.”
While guarding against a jinx, Burcham said the ‘Cats are healthy, with sennior linebacker Hunter Smillie being the biggest loss due to injury
“We don’t want to say too much because we’ve been on the other end of that where we had somebody very important beat up every week,” Burcham said. “We’ve been fortunate to be healthy, and it helps us be competitive when we’ve got the same guys ou there each week.”
With a historically tough opponent standing in the way of the Wildcats’ continuing their season, Burcham said he shouldn’t have to worry about his team being ready to play Friday.
“If you can’t get motivated for this one, I don’t know what it will take,” Burcham said.
Friday’s game at Perdue Field begins at 7:30 p.m.