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Trinity has sights on Simpson

NATCHEZ — Trinity Episcopal senior Carter Smith remembers last year’s game against Simpson Academy.

The Saints were aiming for their third-straight state championship and faced the Cougars in the South State championship game. But Trinity was unable to get much going offensively, falling 23-7 last November.

“It’s very exciting, knowing they put us out last year and we get the chance to come back and maybe take them out,” Smith said of the Saints’ rematch game this Friday.

Trinity (8-4) will travel to Mendenhall to take on the Cougars (9-2) in the second round of the MHSAA Class AA playoffs. Simpson is fresh off the heels of a 15-14 win against Oak Forest Academy last week.

“We’re going to have to play our best game of the year,” Trinity head coach Josh Loy said. “We’re a heavy underdog. There’s no one other than the people in our locker room that thinks we can win. Everyone on the team needs to be at their best.”

Even though neither team returns all of last year’s players, Smith said revenge is still on the Saints’ minds as they head into Friday’s game.

“It’s still the same,” Smith said. “All of us underclassmen know what it’s like seeing the seniors lose their last game last year, and we don’t want it happen again.”

Smith said not wanting to lose their last game has been a motivating factor for himself and the rest of the Saints’ seniors. Even though they’ll have to play their last football game eventually, Smith said he wanted that last game to be a win in the state title game.

“It’s going to be sad not packing our stuff for football every day and not playing at all next year,” Smith said.

The Saints topped Silliman Institute 27-12 last week in the opening round of the postseason, and Loy said there were several positives to take away from the game.

“The offensive line played their best game in several weeks,” Loy said. “The backs played extremely hard and very physical. We didn’t let their best player beat us — we contained the quarterback.”

After not turning the ball over last week, Loy said his team would have to continue eliminating turnovers and be more efficient on offense Friday.

“We have to make the most of our possessions,” Loy said. “We can’t have penalties or turnovers, and we’re going to have to score points.”

Simpson will bring a ball-control offense to the game, Loy said, and will play very physical on that side of the ball.

“They have three very good running backs, and there isn’t much of a drop off between them.” Loy said. “Their offensive line is very big, and they’re not going to want to throw it if they don’t have to.”

In fact, Loy said Centreville Academy would be a good comparison as far as style of play, since both the Tigers and Cougars are heavily run-oriented and like to play physical.

“Their schemes aren’t exactly the same, but the mentality and philosophies are similar,” Loy said.

On defense, Loy said the Cougars would challenge the Saints’ receivers to make plays.

“They play a lot of man coverage, and they’re going to crowd the box,” he said. “They use some five-man fronts, and they rotate their defensive linemen out to keep guys fresh. They just fly to the football.”

Topping the Cougars may seem like a tall task, but Smith said he thinks the team has matured quite a bit and should be ready for the challenge.

“We’ve had all these coaching changes and people playing positions they’re not used to playing because of low numbers,” Carter said. “It means a lot that the underclassmen have stepped up and allowed us to get this far.”

Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Simpson Academy.

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