Trinity benefits from multiple returning starters in spring
NATCHEZ — For Zach Rogel and the Trinity Saints, a year has made a world of difference.
Rewind back to July 2014 and Rogel was dealing with questions such as — “Will you have enough to put together a varsity roster?” May 2015 is a different story. Rogel isn’t hearing any of those questions, coming off of a 9-4 season.
As the 2015 season approaches, Trinity will be one of the more experienced football teams in the area in 2015 — returning a starting quarterback, three running backs, three wide receivers and four offensive linemen.
“It’s definitely nice to return guys that have had quality time last year,” Rogel said. “We started basically from scratch last season. Now that we’re all familiar with one another, you can see the excitement. We’ve got some juice on campus.”
Returning for the Saints is quarterback Kevontaye Caston, who as a sophomore passed for 1,800 yards and rushed for 700, totaling 39 touchdowns for the Saints in 2014. Alongside him will be Cade Wells, who rushed for 613 yards and recorded 614 receiving yards. However, Wells was notably sitting out of practice drills Thursday. The rising junior discovered he had Guillain-Barre syndrome — a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves — last month, and is waiting to be cleared to fully participate.
“I came home one day after working out, like I do every day, and I just felt real lightheaded and I couldn’t feel my feet,” Wells said. “I was tingly, cold and I got dizzy, like I was going to pass out. I couldn’t move any of my limbs.”
Wells was treated in Alexandria and will return for a checkup Wednesday, hoping to be cleared for the May 16 spring game at Silliman. In the meantime, Wells has been observing practice and taking notes on where he should be lined up in certain formations. Wells led the team in tackles last year with 114.
“I dream about getting back on the field every night,” Wells said.
In his absence, soon-to-be senior C.J. Chatman and rising junior Cortez Adams have been sharing reps in the backfield. Meanwhile, Demond Fleming and David Jackson, who combined for 11 touchdown receptions one year ago, have emerged as the starting wide receivers. Fleming, who got more experience with each passing week as a freshman in 2014, said he’s ready to become a breakout wide receiver.
“I told Coach, ‘I’m going to relax because I know what’s expected of me to do,’” Fleming said. “I know I’m going to be one of the top receivers this year, and I have to step up.”
Most of Rogel’s players played both ways a year ago, but with the added depth of Trey Russell, Lane Austin and Jacob Netterville at wide receiver, Rogel hopes to have enough experience to give his players rest. Jakarius Caston will move to slot receiver, as Rogel anticipates Caston and Jackson’s speed will give him favorable matchups.
Where Rogel feels supremely confident is on the offensive line, as he returns four starters in Spencer Adams, Cole Mosby, Joseph Harris and Ty Hite.
With a familiar corps, Rogel said he’s been able to examine the details closely this spring, and reteach the fundamentals of his scheme. The group that got over the transitional season together a year ago has gladly accepted the challenge.
“Now, our main concern is executing the plays correctly, now that we know them,” Chatman said.