If the Saints want to continue their success, having averaged nine wins over the past 10 seasons, they’ll have to get it done on the practice field.
According to Trinity Episcopal head coach David King, the Saints are the smallest 2A school in the state, with about 23 players on the roster.
Because of their small roster, the Saints rely on execution and being in better condition than their opposition.
“What it boils down to,” King said, “is being more physical and in better shape than the other team.
“Our program is one of the most rigorous in the state.. That’s why we win ballgames, because of the work we put in during the summer.”
Part of the reason the Saints’ off-season program is so successful is because they talk to collegiate trainers to find the best possible program for their players.
“Our conditioning is extremely rigorous. We spend a lot of time on the phone with college trainers and we’ve got a workout that’s basically a college workout.
“When you have 20 ballplayers a year, you can’t afford injuries and you can’t afford to be out of shape.”
King said most schools practice or train three times a week during the off-season. Trinity players, however, will train every day except July 4.
“Our kids know the coaching staff is going to be at the school every day except July 4, and the kids take advantage of that.
“We tell the parents to drop them off because (conditioning) is basically child abuse,” King said jokingly.
Bring on the offense
Although the team has to replace five impact seniors who never left the field, King said there’s no room for error and no reason for excuses.
“We’ve averaged nine wins the last 10 years and our fans expect nothing less. There’s no reason for rebuilding season in our program.
“The next group will have to carry the torch.”
In replacing their quarterback and several other skill positions offensively, King said do what’s necessary to win games.
“We’re going to do what we have to do to win football games —whether that’s run over you or line up and spread it out,” King said. “We run everything from the Notre Dame Box (single wing) to five-wide.”
King accredits the Saints’ ability to run so many sets and formations to his players.
“We’ve been fortunate that we have some pretty smart kids,” King said. “We run anywhere from 30 to 40 formations in a game.”
Come this fall, some Saints fans might not recognize the offense King puts on the field.
Due to losing five seniors that played on both sides of the ball, King said they’ve been tossing around some ideas with their offense this off-season.
“We’ve always been real diverse offensively — run a little bit of everything, — and this year will be no exception.
“We’ve put in some packages I think the fans will like.”
The fans will like?
“We’ve always been fan friendly in the way we coach football,” King explained. “We feel the kids love to run wide-open offenses. In today’s athlete it’s different than 30 years ago.
“They want to throw the ball and they want to run trick plays.”
Despite losing several key players, King said not to worry about those positions.
“We’ve had to replace a very successful quarterback and some very successful wide receivers,” King said. “Bottom line is, our kids know the expectations. We’re extremely confident we’ll fill all positions.”
When the regular season rolls around, don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize some of the names and numbers.
“We have an outstanding junior-high group and I look for some of those kids to step up and play immediately.”
SPRING GAME SUCCESS
With their victory over Brookhaven in their spring game, King said satisfied with the progress the team has made.
“I thought it went real well, we got accomplished just what we wanted. I was pleased with what we got out of the spring. We got to see some new kids at different positions.
One injury to keep an eye on from the game is that of linebacker Wells Middleton.
“The only downside (to the spring game) was we lost our leader,” King said.
Middleton injured his leg early in the contest, but King said he expects him to be ready to go in a month.
His recuperation is key for Trinity. If the Saints want to be successful on defense, they’re going to want Middleton on the gridiron to feed from his intensity.
“Wells will take over the leadership role this year,” King said. “He’s a unique individual and his love for the game is contagious.
“He is as passionate at playing the game as anyone I’ve coached.”
Natchez Democrat -- Natchez Ms