Eagles' season ends but coach, team set for future

Trinity Christian senior Ryan Hollingsworth scores a touchdown against Lubbock Trinity.

WILLOW PARK — Moral victories aren’t something that’s tallied in sports but if there was any way to account for adversity, 2020’s high school football season would win a Lombardi Trophy. And the Trinity Christian Academy Eagles could likely share that trophy.

Though the Eagles fell short of winning the area championship with a loss to Covenant Christian the past weekend, they aren’t hanging their heads.

“We’ve got a good core of kids coming back,” said Joe Hamstra, TCA’s head football coach and athletic director. “I think we have good leadership from some of our younger kids who are returning. We have pieces there we can add to and it’s just a matter of us going back to work.”

The Eagles graduate 11 seniors from this year’s squad but Hamstra believes they left a legacy for those coming back. 

“I think our seniors showed [the underclassmen] how to deal with some adversity and overcome it and not make excuses,” he said. “Hopefully, that will be a character trait that will carry them into next season.”

It goes without saying that this season was unlike any other due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that it created a different environment for players and coaches. 

“I know every team dealt with this, but we were so disconnected,” Hamstra said. “And then we got to school, the way we do school life changed and our team unity was not as strong as I had wanted or any of us has wanted.” But there’s a lesson in that, Hamstra added. 

“As coaches, we are always looking at changes and what we want to modify,” he said. “Because of COVID, we’re changing how we have our kids interact with one another. We’re going to be more intentional about making sure we have time with each other next year.”

While this season ended with a 4-4 record, the Eagles did capture the TAPPS Division 3, District 1 championship. And being in a tough district that still has three of the four teams still competing, Hamstra said, “you have to show up every week.” 

“We got thrown in a district that had two state finalists, two quarterfinalists and a semi-finalist so I knew our district was good, but I didn’t realize it was that good,” he said. “It goes to show that you don’t play well on Friday if you don’t practice well Monday through Thursday.”

Hamstra said one of his proudest moments of the season was when the Eagles traveled to Lubbock to take on Lubbock Christian. Though they lost the game, 22-20, the team was missing seven players for various reasons — five of whom were starters.

“The kids played their tails off and I think they realized we are a good football team and have a chance to be a great football team,” Hamstra said. “Anytime you compete well, you’re proud of your kids and they did that that night.”

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