Most kickers would prefer not to boot field goals on a muddy surface, so Trinity Christian senior Ethan Aldridge’s Friday was already headed in the right direction after Our Lady of Mercy and Trinity agreed to move a scheduled Region 5-A game to home turf due to 24-plus hours of steady rain.
But it was a sign of bigger and better things to come in a 37-0 victory for the Lions that clinched a state playoff berth from Region 5-A.
Fueled by a pregame photo of injured offensive lineman Tanner Diget in a lineman’s stance from the hospital where he has been recovering for the last two-plus weeks following a car accident, Trinity jumped out for 34 points in the first half and never looked back to keep the Bobcats in search of their first victory of 2018.
Aldridge, meanwhile, was the Lions player chosen this week to plant the spear in Trinity’s pregame tradition on what became a big night for the fourth-year specialist in potentially his final home game.
He went on to boot three field goals in the win including a school-record 53-yarder that took a formidable bounce after it hit the crossbar and bounced over to end the Lions scoring in the fourth quarter under a running clock for the second half.
“That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?,” Trinity head coach Kenny Dallas said.
A week earlier, Aldridge had booted a 35-yarder that gave the Lions the difference in a 17-14 victory at home on Senior Night over Holy Innocents.
A 7-2 overall record has helped booster Trinity Christian’s playoff hopes after clinching at least a berth from 5-A.. Unlike previous years in the GISA, seeding will be derived around the top-eight from power rankings, each of which receives a first-round bye.
“Sitting at 7-2 going into Wesleyan that becomes a really big game for us,” Dallas said. “There’s no telling where we could end up. We’re pleased where we’re sitting and then we’ll see. But it’s all about playoff seeding now .”
A win over Wesleyan could only help Trinity’s standing to close the regular season, with the Wolves joining Eagle’s Landing Christian and Mount Vernon among the four schools from 5-A that will qualify.
ELCA clinched another region championship with a 42-21 victory over Mount Vernon on Friday.
Wesleyan currently sits in second place in 5-A at 5-1, a game ahead of both Mount Vernon and Trinity. A win by the Lions would force a three-way tie between the three schools behind ELCA.
Trinity kept its attention on the field on Friday, with freshman David Dallas earning his first start at quarterback following a successful JV campaign with the Lions.
Dallas threw a pair of touchdown passes to seniors Zach Jones and Jalen Neal, while Jones and Davis McMurrian added touchdown runs in the first half.
Along with his first two field goals, Aldridge got a chance to line up for a 52-yard attempt that missed the mark, only to connect for a school-record 53 instead after halftime.
An injury to top receiver Chase Metcalf, who went to an area hospital, was among Trinity’s only concerns on Friday. A year where Trinity has fought the injury bug all season on and off the field, had its thoughts still with Diget during his recovery from an accident during the Lions’ bye week.
Diget was on his feet this week while going through positive steps of a long recovery ahead.
“It was really cool. His mom took a picture of him [Friday]. He got in a stance and sent a message to the boys,” Dallas said of Diget, who has gone through multiple surgeries to reconstruct his jaw and facial injuries from a crash where his truck went through a wooden fence that sent pieces through the windshield before hitting a tree.
“Pregame, all I did was blow up the picture and just showed it to them and said if you can’t get ready to play tonight, I don’t know what to do for you.”