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Trinity's Spencer Klehn coming full circle

Posted: November 27, 2013 10:48 p.m.
Updated: November 27, 2013 10:48 p.m.

Trinity Classical Academy senior Spencer Klehn was a player on Trinity's first senior football team.

 

In 2010, Spencer Klehn led a talented freshmen class that entered Trinity Classical Academy with the unique opportunity to help build a football program that would go as far as bright-eyed and inexperienced 14-year-old kids could take it.

Despite fielding a roster of 20 players, representing a school with a total enrollment of 510 students, and competing at the varsity level for just four seasons, the Trinity Classical Academy Knights 8-man football program is on the map four years later.

29-6 over the past three seasons, on the map.

Outscoring opponents by a clip of 517-145 in 2013, on the map.

Squaring off against powerhouse Joshua Springs on Saturday in the CIF-Southern Section Division II 8-man Championship, on the map.

How a football team transforms itself into a powerhouse is simple: watch film, lift weights, practice hard and believe in the system.

But a successful building project doesn’t take off without reliable leadership at the top, and the senior do-it-all playmaker Klehn, the running back/linebacker who leads the team in all-purpose yards and touchdowns and is second in turnovers created on defense, is as good of a leader as they come.

“An amazing young man, an amazing academic as well,” says Trinity football head coach Mike Buchanan. “Before our last game he actually took some time by himself to reflect on the goals we outlined for him, you know ... just think about what his role with the team was.”

“Spencer is always thinking about what he can do to make his teammates more successful,” says Trinity senior linebacker Patch Kulp. “Even if he needs a couple of extra times to run through plays, it’s because he’s trying to get the best understanding possible of where everybody needs to be on the field.”

As Buchanan and Kulp touched upon, Klehn is a deep thinker. The 6-foot-1-inch, 176-pound senior enjoys movie watching because it allows him to reflect upon greater principles.

Klehn’s favorite movie is the 2011 flick “Warrior,” starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte. In it, two brothers driven apart by an alcoholic father must learn to forgive their father, themselves and each other before they are forced to battle out their demons in a no-holds-barred mixed martial arts competition.

“‘Warrior’ is my favorite movie, definitely. I like the lessons the story teaches about the nature of relationships, and how these brothers have to move past the pain — learn to understand and forgive each other if they want to even try and make their family work,” says Klehn, who carries a 4.8 GPA and enjoys Calculus 3 and Greek language.

As Saturday converges, and Trinity’s highest stakes ever game against Joshua Springs at Valencia High school looms large, Klehn’s favorite movie reminds him of the patience needed in accomplishing the task at hand.

Now is Trinity’s moment.

For Klehn, Kulp, the Trinity defense and the past couple of years — for that to be unanimously cemented in SCV sports history, it has to be now.

A season ago, Joshua Springs upended a cohesive Knights squad convincingly in the CIF-Southern Section 8-man Division II semifinals, running away 46-28 to end a promising 2012 season.

Earlier this year, Trinity entered a midseason road showdown at Joshua Springs riding a four-game winning streak. The Knights left Yucca Valley on the wrong end of a 36-34 thriller.

In that game, on Oct. 18, Klehn scored three rushing touchdowns and returned a kick 51 yards.

“The coaching staff respects him enough to ask his opinions on the stuff we’re working on in practice,” says Buchanan of his senior do-everything captain. “This man is disciplined and unselfish. We made him a captain as a sophomore because of the things we saw in him.”

It’s pretty clear to the rest of Southern California’s 8-man-football scene what Buchanan’s staff saw in Klehn by now.

Klehn has carried the ball 90 times for 704 yards.

In the passing game Klehn shines, hauling in 20 passes for 439 yards.

He has 27 total touchdowns this season.

He’s a versatile playmaker on a team trending up — since losing to the Lightning the Knights are on a tear, scoring 238 points during their four-game winning streak.

A month later and it’s the same teams, heightened circumstances.

2013 supremacy.

Bragging rights.

Does Spencer Klehn want to leave Trinity having never bested Joshua Springs?

Everything we know about him says it matters, but there is also the bigger picture.

Upon graduating, Klehn wants to attend either the United States Military Academy at West Point or the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Service academy cadets are required to serve in the armed forces for a period of at least five years upon graduation.

West Point and Annapolis graduates become officers upon completion of their studies, meaning that at as young as 21-years old, Klehn may have men under his command.

Spencer appears on the cover of a Trinity informational brochure — he is the face of the standard that Trinity expects its students to aspire to.

That says all you need to know about what Klehn has meant to his team and the Trinity institution.

The class of 2014 as a whole has done some special things for the reputation of Trinity Classical Academy athletics.

Nothing that happens on Saturday will change that.

In “Warrior,” recovering alcoholic Paddy Conlon and his son Tommy say to each other, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.”

Trinity and Joshua Springs know each other well.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Valencia High.

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