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2012 Trinity football preview: Taking chances

The Knights will compete against five Division I teams in 2012

Posted: August 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Trinity Classical Academy football players, from left, Chris Buchanan, Donny MacAdam, Dakota Prochnow, Spencer Klehn and Patch Kulp.

 

As a new program that performed above expectations last season, Trinity Classical Academy football will know more about its direction and talent level after this year than it has at any point over the course of its short but successful history.

Unsatisfied after last year’s postseason loss in the CIF-Southern Section 8-man Division II semifinals, both Knights players and coaches have taken drastic measures to ensure the team goes all the way in 2012.

Simply put, the Trinity Knights are all in this year.

The most obvious shake-up is the schedule that Trinity head coach Mike Buchanan has assembled.

A year ago, the Knights outscored overmatched teams 529-116 in their 11 wins only to fall by 20 points in their final game against Cuyama Valley, their only loss of the year. In an attempt to better prepare the Knights for the elite-level teams they may face in the later rounds of the playoffs, Buchanan scheduled five Division I opponents for the upcoming year. Two of those teams, Desert Christian and Mojave, are established powerhouses that each won 10 games a year ago.

Trinity will also face entirely new teams during their league season after making the jump from the Omega League to the more competitive Heritage League earlier this year.

“Last year, we stayed motivated against lesser opponents because we treated every game the same,” said junior linebacker/running back Patch Kulp, who led all players in Division II with 161 tackles last year. “This year, we will be smaller than a lot of the teams we face.”

It was this understanding that led Kulp to hit the weight room in the offseason, resulting in a 20-pound increase of muscle coming into training camp as a junior. Luckily for Buchanan, the rest of the team followed suit.

“I’d say about 80 percent of the guys on our team got in the gym since last year,” Buchanan said. “The stars we lost from last year’s team included a 250-pound plus lineman and a 190-pound receiver. We can’t exactly replace that size, but it’s nice to have bulked up to close the difference at least a little bit.”

Kulp and teammates Donny MacAdam, Chris Buchanan, and Spencer Klehn are returning players who have established a backbone of upperclassmen leadership necessary to help the team’s talented, but younger, players adjust to the uncharacteristically brutal year the Knights are in for.

“Our defense is sure to be a strength,” said Chris Buchanan, the team’s senior inside linebacker. “We know for sure that if somebody hits us, then we are going to come back and hit them harder. We have the ultimate wolfpack mentality.”

The “wolfpack mentality” Buchanan is referring to is Trinity’s trademark aggressive gang tackling defensive approach that shut out two opponents last year, a tough feat to accomplish considering that 8-man football is generally higher scoring.

On offense, the team will have to replace standout receiver and 2011 Omega League Player of the Year James Brooks, who graduated this past spring. Fortunately, the Knights return many of their other weapons, including Kulp in the backfield and standout quarterback Dakota Prochnow, who tallied 2,400 all-purpose yards a year ago. Ironically, Kulp and Prochnow, who are both two-way players, may have less influence on the field position battle than punter Caleb Durst.

While Durst may only see the field on fourth downs, the junior is one of the most dynamic special teams players in all of Southern California, Mike Buchanan said.

Yet, Trinity’s assets were players that performed at a high level against lesser competition. Because of the tougher schedule in 2012, it is nearly impossible to tell what kind of team the Knights really are until they take the field.

Perhaps no other game serves as more of a microcosm to 2012’s unpredictably than Trinity’s opener against Orcutt Academy today at 6:30 p.m. at College of the Canyons.

Although Orcutt Academy is new to the ranks of 8-man football, the school itself has an enrollment number that exceeds 500 students.

“They don’t have a lot of experience, but they have a massive pool of kids to choose from,” said MacAdam, the team’s senior center. “We have about a hundred and something students, so they outnumber us like five to 1.”

A win against Orcutt would give the Knights much-needed momentum heading into a matchup with Immanuel Christian, a team that switched back to 8-man football after struggling in 11-man.

An encouraging sign for Knights fans is that those least intimidated by the upcoming season are the players and coaches themselves. The overall sentiment in camp about the upcoming year is that regardless of what happens, the fact that Trinity is at this stage so soon into the program’s history is an accomplishment in and of itself.

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