Male used traditional formula to oust Trinity
by John Herndon for GLICOD
LOUISVILLE – I really didn’t know what to expect when GLICOD’s Chris Labar asked if I could work the Trinity at Male state semifinal football game Friday night.
Just thinking of the teams lining it up was enough to send a few chills up the spine of someone who has written about high school sports since 1985 and followed them for many years before that. Ask anyone who watches Kentucky high school football for a list of the Top 10 programs in Kentucky and Male and Trinity have to be there.
Trinity and its 27 state titles, including the last two in Class 6A..
Male, the winningest school in Kentucky history, headed into Friday’s contest with 926 victories since 1893.
We’re talking about the Brohm brothers, Chris Redman and Michael Bush. We are talking about traditions that most schools can’t dare to dream.
And we are talking about the teams that had squared off in the 6A state final the last two years.
Surprisingly to most people, it was the first time I had ever seen either program up close and personal. Really, it’s one of the few downsides to a career covering a smaller school (Anderson County) for so many years. The chances of seeing either of the big boys in person just were not there when I had other local duties.
Friday, Male and Trinity didn’t disappoint. The host Bulldogs were in control almost from the outset and cruised to a 48-21 victory. Top-ranked Male moves on to play St. Xavier for the Class 6A state championship at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. You can listen to the game broadcast at GLICOD.com.
Male, now 13-0, handed St. X (13-1) its only loss, a 28-21 decision on Sept. 3.
Last week, Male underscored one of the first things I learned playing youth league football over 50 years ago: championships are won by taking care of the ball and winning the battles up front..
You can talk about all the latest spread offenses. You can talk about how the game has changed over the years – and it has done just that – but the bottom line is the team that controls the line still wins the game almost every time.
You can talk about how your grandfather’s T-formation has given way to the one-back sets of 2021, but the guys up front are the difference makers.
Before going any further, let’s make it clear that with a talent like Daniel Swinney, Male doesn’t need another ball carrier. Showing the kind of workhorse he has been all season, Swinney riddled Trinity for 161 yards and 6 – SIX! – touchdowns on 31 carries. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 216 pounds, the junior now has 1,538 yards and 29 touchdowns this year.
And we have to acknowledge Male quarterback Nic Schutte, who completed 12-of-15 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. In the first half, when Male was establishing its superiority, I had Schutte at 10-for-10 and 225 yards. Schutte, who will be playing collegiate baseball at Western Kentucky, threw his first interception of the year, but by that time, Male could have been packing its bags for Lexington.
On the year, Schutte has completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,519 yards and 29 scores.
And while receiver Vinny Anthony caught just three passes against Trinity, he’s a high-level recruit who has committed to Wisconsin. Anthony has hauled in 47 passes on the year.
So there’s no question that Male coach Chris Wolfe has the offensive power that an average of 42 points per game would certainly suggest.
But the unsung heroes were up front, dominating Trinity in a way that few would have imagined possible. In the first half, especially, the holes created were huge and Schutte was rarely pressured. They aren’t huge, averaging 241 pounds from tackle to tackle, but the Bulldogs in the trenches were just as impressive in doing their jobs as the playmakers were in theirs.
(A shout out to The Courier-Journal’s Jason Frakes who tweeted out the names of those Bulldog linemen: Jon Daniels, Antonio Taylor, Andrew Daniel, Carter Cary and Chrisitian Depp.)
By halftime, things appeared to be over. The Bulldogs’ 16 first downs had doubled the Shamrocks’ output and, by my unofficial tally, Male had almost doubled Trinity’s offensive output with a 345-177 advantage. Only a failed two-point conversion attempt with a minute to play in the first half and Male up 41-7 saved Trinity from a running clock in the second half.
But a program does not have the top prize from 27 different years in its trophy case without a major sense of pride. Trinity tried to make a game of it, even getting within 41-21 in the third quarter but that was as close as the Shamrocks could get Friday night.
Armon Tucker, a mighty good running back himself, totaled 106 yards and two scores for Trinity. His first touchdown, a 39-yard jaunt in front of the Male bench, came after breaking a tackle on what looked like a short gain. It put Trinity up 7-6, but it was all Male the rest of the half. It wasn’t the kind of ending the Shamrocks wanted in Jay Cobb’s first year as head coach, but this was one really good football team.
As was often noted in the Louisville media, Trinity dropped its first six games, following a pre-district regimen begun by former coach Bob Beatty. The Shamrocks took on some of the best in four other states before taking on local rivals. Against Kentucky teams, Trinity finished at 6-3 with the losses coming to St. Xavier and twice to Male.
What will happen Saturday night in Lexington is anyone’s guess. Male will have to defeat the other member of the Big Three of Class 6A football for its ninth title and third since 2015. St. X will be looking to add the 13th big trophy to its collection but the first since 2009.
But just like most other games, the winner will likely be the one who does not turn the ball over and controls things up front.