Strong Simpson defense ends Trinity’s season

Published 12:27 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

MENDENHALL — One game away from a chance to three-peat as state champions, the Trinity Episcopal football team ran into a brick wall Friday night.

That brick wall was the Simpson Academy defense, which held Trinity to just 203 yards of total offense, 171 of which came through the air.

Four turnovers didn’t help the Saints’ cause as they fell 23-7 in the MAIS Class AA title game, but Trinity head coach David King said it was simply a matter of the better team winning.

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“We just played an outstanding football team,” King said. “That’s one of the best defenses I’ve ever coached against.

“This group has been through more since June than any group in my previous 13 years (of coaching), with injuries, academics and other issues. They overcame them and got to play for the South State title, so they have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Simpson scored first on a 35-yard field goal by Robert Berry with 5:18 left in the first quarter. Trinity struck back on the ensuing possession, with quarterback Scott Turner hitting Tip McKenzie for a 62-yard touchdown pass — McKenzie’s 100th career touchdown.

It was the one bright spot for Trinity, however, as Simpson Academy the rest of the points in the game. The Cougars’ Brandon Johnson had a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:15 left before the half to give Simpson Academy a 10-7 lead at the break.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Cougars finally pulled away with 10:08 left in the fourth on a 67-yard scoring run by Cade Eilend. Johnson added a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:04 left in the game.

King said the Cougars’ depth on defense made things too difficult for Trinity consistently threaten to score.

“They were just good everywhere,” King said. “They had a good front line that pursued the ball, and they had some great skill guys. It was just two good football teams getting at it, and the better team won.”

McKenzie’s 100 career touchdowns was something King said will have a special place in Saints history.

“He just came from a long line of skill players we’ve had over the years, and he had a great two years with us,” King said. “We’re glad he was a part of the Trinity family.”

Turner was 8-for-27 in passing with three interceptions, while McKenzie attempted one pass, which was picked off by the Cougars. The Saints managed only 32 net rushing yards.

Even though this year’s seniors were unable to get the three-peat, King said he was proud of the way they fought through a lot of adversity.

“We graduated the most seniors (for any one year) in Trinity history last year, and we also moved up a classification,” King said. “We don’t allow them to make excuses here, and they didn’t. They gave it all they had.”

Trinity finished its season 11-3, while Simpson Academy improved to 13-0.