Only three years after making the transition from 6-man to 11-man football, the Trinity Christian Academy Eagles are already vying for a TAPPS state championship.
TCA (10-3) opened the 2018 season with a 2-3 start, before racking off eight-straight wins for a perfect 5-0 finish in district play, as well as spot in the TAPPS Division III state finals against the Boerne Geneva Eagles (10-3).
Only days away from the team’s final game of the year, TCA Head Football Coach Joe Hamstra said the Eagles are ready to prove their mettle.
“We’re obviously very excited,” Hamstra said.
“There’s a level of confidence that we have, but there’s also recognition that we have work to do. This game’s not gonna be a gimme, so there’s a respect for our opponent and a respect for the game.
“As exciting as [last week’s] game was, we’ve put that behind us now. It started [Monday] morning before school, we brought our kids in to lift. I think we’re in a good position now. It’s a fine line between confidence and understanding what we’re capable of, but doing our work as well.”
The Eagles outlasted a scrappy Coram Deo Academy team last week in the former’s 13-7 state semifinals win.
For Hamstra, Friday’s state finals contest has a chance to play out in a similar manner, TCA’s head football coach said.
“They’re very similar to Coram Deo,” Hamstra said.
“They have a big line of scrimmage. Their tailback is 195 lb., they’ve got a quarterback that’s a big, thick kid and they run the ball downhill out of the pistol. It’s downhill running, counter-gap scheme and no one’s been able to slow them down yet. They’ve been scoring over 45 points a game in the playoffs so we’ll have our hands full on that side of the ball.”
As Hamstra noted, Geneva has excelled through the course of its 2018 playoff run, winning by an average of 53-15 during the three-game span.
That being said, the Geneva Eagles face a ballhawking TCA secondary which has notched 22 interceptions on the year, as well as an equally aggressive TCA front seven owning 29 sacks.
Geneva’s own defense is characterized by an aggressive style of play as well, Hamstra said.
“Defensively, they’ve got a couple players that are good cover guys,” Hamstra said.
“They play a lot of press man, and I like to think we can get some of our kids open and hit them with some big plays. It’s gonna be a heck of a ball game and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to play for it all.”
With Geneva playing predominantly man coverage, TCA wideouts Carson Wert and Preston Gist stand as two players two watch for to deliver a big play on the outside.
Aside from the challenge that Geneva presents, it should be noted that TCA will be playing in its first-ever 11-man football state finals, the kind of moment which has the potential to rattle players at any level.
However, Hamstra said his team understands the importance of staying focused, as well as humble ahead of Friday.
“We’ve talked about it,” Hamstra said.
“Our baseball team has been very successful, and our basketball teams have played in big games, and a lot of those kids are two or three-sport athletes. We’re trying our best to keep this week as normal as possible. But I don’t think the stage is going to be too big for our kids. They’ve been in big ball games before, and I think there’s a carryover when you’re a competitor.”
Kickoff is at noon Friday at Hewitt’s Panther Stadium.