2018 Record: 8-4 overall (3-3, Region 6-A Division A)
Head Coach: Justin Brown 48-30, 7 seasons at Trion
All Time Record: 899 games 538 – 341 – 20 (61%)
Total Seasons: 85
All State Players: 68
Region Championships: 12 (Last in 2003)
State Championships: 2 (Last in 1974)
8.16 vs LaFayette
8.23 vs Coosa
9.6 at Dade County
9.13 vs Armuchee
9.20 vs North Cobb Christian
9.27 at Gordon Lee
10.4 vs Mt. Zion
10.11 at Christian Heritage
10.18 vs Darlington
11.1 at Bowdon
11.8 Region Crossover
Trion began 2018 with a lot of question marks.
How will the Bulldogs replace nine offensive starters, including a record setting quarterback, the entire starting backfield and most of the offensive line?
Also, the fans of the Bulldogs will see nine new defensive starters on the other side of the ball.
The preseason scrimmage for the Bulldogs was a little off, but they made a positive turn after that, finishing the regular season 7-3 and earning a home playoff game. Trion advanced to the second round of the 2018 GHSA playoffs, falling to Schley County to end their season.
“That group of guys really exceeded everyone’s expectations,” says Head Football Coach Justin Brown proudly.
The 2018 season was Trion High School’s fourth winning season in a row, meaning this year’s players know what it takes to win. That attitude will definitely be important for their 2019 team.
“These are kids who are used to winning ball games. That’s a big thing for the team, and there is only one way to get used to winning… and that’s winning,” explains Brown. “They know how to win; they’ve seen others win. We always preach the mindset of when it is your time to step in, be ready. Our players have done a really good job of stepping up when we call their number”
The Bulldog’s offensive unit is replacing nine offensive starters again this season. The only returning starters are the quarterback and one offensive linemen. Lincoln Maddux is that starting quarterback. His confidence and high football IQ will help the offense tremendously.
“Our offense always starts with our running game, as we are a running football team,” says Brown.
The offensive line, which will guide the running game, is led by offensive tackle Clay Baker and offensive guard, Alex Stewart. The rest of the line will be filled by first-year starters Bo Jones (senior), Ross Moore (senior) and Hunter Hobbs (junior). Also returning on offense is tight end Will Wyatt, the Bulldog’s best all-around football player.
“We believe our first 11 guys on the field have an opportunity to be very successful,” Brown says when speaking about his offense.“We are thin in experience and Friday night readiness behind the starters right now. We will also need to avoid the injury bug at all costs due to our depth.”
The defense is returning their front six from last season with three defensive linemen and three linebackers. Last year, Trion went from a read and react defense to more of an attack defense, and the players and coaches were much better defensively.
“This year, with players having a better understanding of calls and schemes and expectations, that’s going to be good for us,” says Brown.
Trion has three senior linebackers in Will Wyatt, Bryce Wallin, and Ross Moore. Alex Stewart, who came into his own as a defensive lineman last year, will be an impactful player again this year on the line. Nose guard Clay Baker is a big-time player and is getting attention from college programs. Linemen Bo Jones and Hunter Hobbs will split time playing the backside end, as both are also starters on the offense. All-Region outside linebacker, Kodiak Crabbe, returns after a great 2018 season. Sophomore Rob Brown returns at the corner position with some maturity after starting as a freshman last season.
Trion must replace the kicker and punter from last season. Eddie Vasquez, a hard worker, is the leading candidate for kicker and may be doing both jobs.
“We don’t ever go into a game looking to kick a 40-yarder to win a football game. If we can consistently get the 20 to 30-yard field goals when we need them, and not get behind on the scoreboard with botched extra points. Our kicker has done a great job for us,” says Brown when speaking of the expectations of a Trion Bulldog kicker. Sophomore Devin Dalton could claim the punting position with continued hard work in practice, as well.
“Our junior varsity team contains two really good groups coming up,” says Brown. “The upcoming freshman and sophomores are really going to make an impact on Thursdays. We are happy to be back to a junior varsity format that we are more comfortable with, playing full games (7) instead of the jamboree-type games that we feel didn’t supply enough reps. We have an incoming Freshman quarterback, Logan Eller, that I’ve got some pretty high hopes for. The JV players will get a great number of reps which is what it takes to play varsity.”
Trion’s scheme and program doesn’t change. “It’s just a matter of plugging guys in and getting them comfortable with that scheme.”
Not only is Brown is involved in Trion football at the high school level, but all youth, middle and junior varsity players hear from their coach often.
“All of our kids wear the Trion ‘T’ on their helmet just like the big boys do. When our kids step into the school (Trion Elementary, Middle, and High schools all share one campus) they are Bulldogs, and they are Bulldogs from first grade through twelfth grade. It helps the tradition and raises pride, and when they care about that as young kids, half the battle is already won,” Brown says.
“Our middle school program runs what we run, our youth teams run what we run and that’s a key to success. That was our thought eight years ago, to get that program in place and let it build upon itself year after year. Once they get to us, they should be ready to run the basics of our offense,” continues Brown.
“You just keep developing them, helping them to get them stronger, meaner and tougher. When it’s their time on Friday night, they step up and step in for the guy that graduated,” says Brown when speaking about the middle school and youth programs. “And still, on Saturdays when I go watch the youth and see a seven-and- under team running the double wing and running the jet, it makes me pretty excited.”
Trion pride shows in all that Brown and his football program does. The High school staff is going into its eighth year, and 90 percent of the coaches were Trion Bulldogs themselves.
Trion is a Single A school, and they average between a 60 and 70 player roster per year. That means approximately 25 percent of males in the school are playing football.
After years of replacing seniors with seniors, this year’s Trion team will be utilizing sophomores in some positions. That experience will be good for them because the sooner they get in the mix and accustomed to competing on game days, the better the team will be.
“I’m just looking forward to August. One of the great things about high school, especially in football, is seeing kids grow up. There’s not a better place to get a real look at a man’s character than when he’s out there on the field for Friday night games. You will have kids who cry through the spring, cry every day and some even do that for three years. Then, all of a sudden, that guy you thought would never ever help you is an All-Region player, because he knows what’s expected of him and it is his time. He gets in and takes advantage of that opportunity. As a coach and as a person, that is exciting to see,” Brown says.