Commentary

Trinity sets state record with 19th title

Updated: December 17, 2008, 3:04 PM ET
By Jody Demling | Special to ESPNRISE.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Highlands (Fort Thomas) won Kentucky's Class 5-A football title on Friday, tying Trinity (Louisville) for the most titles in state history with 18.

[+] EnlargeScott Radcliff
AP Photo/Garry JonesScott Radcliff and Trinity sprinted to a record 19th title.

But it didn't take the Shamrocks long to get back on top.

Less than 24 hours later, Trinity steamrolled Simon Kenton (Independence, Ky.) 48-0 in the 6-A final on a bitter cold night to add to the school's dynasty with a record 19th title before 11,556 fans at the University of Louisville's Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

"That's back where we should be," Trinity coach Bob Beatty said. "I heard comments about how Highlands was rooting for Simon Kenton, but that's OK because 19 belongs to Trinity. We have a little niche in history."

Check that, a large niche.

The Shamrocks have won both 6-A titles since the state added two classes and have won four consecutive large class titles, including six of the past seven.

Beatty, who was in his ninth season after coming to Trinity from Blue Springs High School near Kansas City (Mo.), has taken the most successful program in the state on a run the likes of which it has never seen before.

Under Beatty's direction, Trinity is an eye-catching 40-2 in the playoffs, has won seven titles and been to the championship game eight of nine seasons.

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"They brought me here to win games," Beatty said. "I don't know what else to say. That's my job, it's what I am paid to do, so I try and do it the best I can. We strive to be the best we can be, and I can't say enough about my staff and the kids.

"It's a long season and a big commitment. We spend a lot of time away from home, six months. That's an NFL season if you count out two scrimmages, so it's a lot of dedication on the part of our kids and their moms and dads."

This time, the reward came fairly easy.

After avenging its only loss of the season to St. Xavier (Louisville) in the semifinals, Trinity (14-1) rolled Simon Kenton (10-5). The Pioneers were the fourth seed from their district and won four road games on their way to their title appearance.

Trinity, which won games (other than against St. Xavier) by an average of 41.1 points, scored on all six of its first-half possessions in the title game. The final four scores of the half came in six plays, covered 219 yards and consumed 1:42.

"Their offense is incredible," Simon Kenton coach Jeff Marksberry said. "They're a well-oiled machine. They go and go and go and go. They're so skilled, so technical, so fast. They just do a fantastic job."

Trinity has had a long line of top-notch quarterbacks, including former Louisville and NFL signal-caller Jeff Brohm, his brother Brian (who is now with the Green Bay Packers), Nick Petrino (son of Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino) and Louisville freshman Will Stein, among others.

Tim Phillips
AP Photo/Garry JonesTim Phillips scored three touchdowns -- in the first half! -- in Trinity's rout of Simon Kenton.

Cameron Smyth started for only one season, but he joins the ranks of those sensational quarterbacks the school has produced.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Smyth was perfect in the title game. He completed 12 of 12 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for another score.

"It wasn't just me," Smyth said. "I have to give a lot of credit to my receivers and the line. They were catching the ball and blocking. I just threw the ball."

Beatty said the only mistake Smyth made was calling the wrong play on one call in the second quarter. The coaches had called a run on first down, but Smyth mixed up the signals and called a play-action pass. He hit Darick Nix for an 81-yard touchdown pass on the mix-up.

After the play, Beatty noted, offensive coordinator Andrew Coverdale said: "Let him call the game."

Smyth, who is getting some small-college attention, wasn't the lone star on a team loaded with standout players.

Running back Tim Phillips, who has committed to Eastern Michigan, ran 11 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns and also caught a 20-yard TD pass.

The 5-foot-5, 165-pound Phillips, who can bench-press 365 pounds, finished his career as the school's all-time leading rusher with 4,587 yards. He had 23 career 100-yard games, rushed for 76 career touchdowns and finished with 84 total scores.

And then there's the defense.

[+] EnlargeTrinity High School
AP Photo/Garry JonesPostseason hardware is nothing new -- but always special -- at Trinity.

Led by Ohio State University recruit Jordan Whiting at linebacker, the Shamrocks' defense put Simon Kenton in lock-down mode.

Junior running back Miles Simpson has drawn comparisons to former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, who also played in the Northern Kentucky area at Florence Boone County. The 6-3, 200-pound Simpson had rushed for 2,237 yards and 37 TDs.

But then he ran up against the Rock wall, gaining only 72 yards on 17 carries. Simon Kenton finished with 150 yards on 53 plays, compared to 423 yards on 39 plays for Trinity. Quarterback Chad Lawrence was hit on a scramble in the second quarter and taken off the field on a stretcher. He was diagnosed with a Grade II concussion.

"We wanted to come out and set the tone," Whiting said. "They came out tough but our focus was good. We had a great win last week [against St. Xavier] but our focus was phenomenal. It's just a blessing to get four rings."

It didn't take long for Beatty to start getting questions about a drive for five. The school's junior varsity team was undefeated, and the Shamrocks had one of their most talented freshmen teams in school history. So the run is likely not over.

"I'm very, very proud of these kids and what they have accomplished," Beatty said. "We'll take a little time off and do it all over again."

Jody Demling is a sports reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal.