During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation this fall.
This week’s team: Trinity (Louisville, Ky.)
Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 10. The Shamrocks, who are coming off the highest national ranking since 1938 for a Kentucky team, return several major offensive weapons who should bolster their chances for another high position. Since coach Bob Beatty took over in 2000, the Shamrocks have appeared in 11 of 12 state title games, including the last seven, and won nine crowns to boost the school's overall title haul to a state-record-tying 21.
Team Strengths: Trinity will bring back touted wide receiver/kick returner James Quick. Rated the nation’s No. 59 recruit in the ESPN 150, Quick earned ESPNHS Underclass All-American honors this past season after catching 82 passes for 1,434 yards and scoring 22 total touchdowns. Junior quarterback Travis Wright passed for 3,036 yards and 39 touchdowns with just three interceptions. And junior running back Dalyn Dawkins rushed for 1,901 yards on 237 carries and scored 34 total touchdowns. All three played huge roles in Trinity averaging nearly 50 points per game last season. Trinity’s main concern is replacing five graduated offensive linemen.
Another Kentucky team to watch: Highlands (Fort Thomas, Ky.) is to Class 4A what Trinity is to 6A. The Bluebirds also have 21 state titles, including the last five in a row, and if Highlands can find a replacement for graduated Gatorade State Player of the Year and University of Kentucky quarterback recruit Patrick Towles, the team could make it six in a row. Last season, Highlands finished No. 31 in the FAB 50 with a 15-0 record while setting state single-season records with 7,516 total yards, 849 points and 121 touchdowns. Last season's roster included 65 underclassmen and the backup to Towles was sophomore Drew Houliston. Veterans expected back include junior wide receiver Donovan McCoy and junior defensive back Blake Schutte. Highlands has played top Cincinnati teams in the past that often determines regional and national ranking positions. Highlands’ schedule this fall will feature a game against last season's state Class 6A state runner-up, Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.).