Trinity’s Cross excels at offensive tackle after moving to linePublished 12:01am Thursday, September 12, 2013
NATCHEZ — Caleb Cross spent most of his career at Trinity Episcopal Day School as a running back.
But with plenty of depth at that position — and not so much on the offensive line — Cross was asked to move to left tackle to help his team rebuild a unit that lost several key players.
Heading into Friday’s game against Porter’s Chapel Academy, Saints head coach Josh Loy said Cross has made the most of the move.
“He’s a really unselfish kid,” Loy said. “We were thin on the line, and he stepped up, and he’s arguably playing as good up front as anyone. It shows he’s got good character.”
Part of the reason Trinity is undefeated at 3-0 is that its line has given quarterback Michael Whitley plenty of time to make big plays. And since the team is winning, Cross said he doesn’t care about not being able to carry the ball anymore.
“The only thing bad about it is that I couldn’t wear No. 22 anymore,” Cross said, referring to the fact that linemen typically wear higher numbers on their jerseys.
“It benefitted the team, so I didn’t have a problem with it.”
Cross, a senior, credited first-year offensive line coach Larry Calcote, who played offensive line at Northwestern State, with helping Cross adjust to the position.
“It’s come to me easier than I thought it would, and he’s helped me a lot,” Cross said. “He helped me with my footwork and taught me how to form tackle.”
Calcote, who joined the coaching staff Aug. 5, said Cross’ work ethic is what’s allowed him to excel at offensive tackle despite only having three games under his belt.
“I’ve never been around a kid that’s so relentless,” Calcote said. “Not only did he make the switch, but he’s by far the best one up front. He plays through the whistle, he’s strong, he doesn’t stop and he’s got that good kind of crazy that coaches like.”
Calcote also said Cross is leading the team in tackles at linebacker on defense, further showing how much of an asset he is to the team.
“He’s the kind of kid that every coach is looking for,” Calcote said.
Loy said he is pleased with his team’s perfect record and No. 2 ranking in Class A so far this season. But he said the games that count have yet to be played.
“We’re off to a good start.” Loy said. “But this is our first district game, so obviously, it’s a little bit more important than any other.”
After a 64-16 victory over Central Private last week that saw every Saint get significant playing time, Loy said he knows what changes need to be made before district play opens up against Porter’s Chapel.
“We’re still working on us. We’re trying to perfect what we do,” he said. “I’m looking at some people at different places that’ll help us down the road.”
Loy said he looks for Wyatt Boothe to make a big impact as he’s steadily healing from an injury.
“I’m looking for him to play a little wide receiver and quarterback for us,” Loy said.
Though Trinity’s defense only allowed Central Private 26 total yards last week, Loy said there is still room to grow.
“Defensively, we’re seeing a lot of improvement, but we have to get more familiar with our schemes,” he said.
In their first three games, the Saints have managed to average 50 points a game with their high-octane offense. But Loy said he still wants more from his key players.
“Trey Hall, Quinton Logan deserves more touches and Dee Fleming hadn’t gotten many carries,” Loy said. “We need to get them the ball.”
Loy said Vidalia High-transfer Stewart Mallory will eligible to play this week. But Mallory won’t see time at quarterback.
“He’ll play a lot of defense for us, maybe play some wide receiver,” Loy said. “He’ll be on all of our special teams.”
The Saints will host Porter’s Chapel at 7 p.m. Friday.