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MIKE KOVAK ARTICLE ON TJ GAME

Posted Saturday, September 13, 2008 by Ed Dalton

Shuout loss to TJ leaves Trinity speechless

By Mike Kovak, Staff writer

mkovak@observer-reporter.com

The Trinity football team slowly walked toward the end zone, took a knee and huddled around head coach Ed Dalton. Heads hung low as Dalton and the staff searched for the right words.

No player uttered a word. Only a few took their stunned gazes off the ground.

It's a typical scene following games against Thomas Jefferson.

The Jaguars aren't particularly fancy. They're not big on finesse either. They just do the little things very well and do so with alarmingly regularity. Their 40-0 victory at Trinity in the Class AAA Big Seven Conference opener Friday night provided ample evidence of the Jaguars' dominance.

"I just know they are way better than we are. I don't know what else to say," Dalton said. "They just lined up and kicked our (butts). I can't remember the last time we got whipped like that."

The 40-point margin of defeat marks the largest for Trinity (0-1, 1-2) since losing to McKeesport, 48-7, on Sept. 9, 2005.

"They just executed. They just beat our (butt)," Dalton added. "They just played better football. They definitely coached better. I don't know if people realize the magnitude of what they've done in conference. It's unbelievable. They haven't lost a game since 2004. You're going to have a bad night once you would think."

Not Thomas Jefferson (1-0, 2-1), the unquestioned standard bearer when it comes to Class AAA football in the WPIAL.

With the Trinity victory, the Jaguars have won 28 straight games against WPIAL Class AAA competition.

Even more impressive, Thomas Jefferson is 46-3 in conference play since the 2000 season.

"They just run five plays. The secret is their blocking schemes," Dalton said. "How they keep doing it? I'm at a loss for words."

Whether Thomas Jefferson lined up in shotgun formation - as it did during the first half to combat the heavy rains - or in a traditional I-formation, it worked.

Senior tailback Brian Baldridge scored the game's first two touchdowns and went on to rush for 124 yards. Quarterback Tyler Wehner added 50 yards rushing and a touchdown while passing for 80 yards and another score.

"I think we just executed well. Coming into this game, we worked really hard on staying on our blocks," said Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak. "As far as it goes for us, it's the details."

Things like remaining disciplined on defense. The Jaguars recovered two Trinity fumbles, both on fumbles snaps by quarterback Andrew Steratore, and intercepted two passes.

The first interception was returned for a second-quarter touchdown by Jim Giansante and the second fumble led to Baldridge's second score.

"I thought after they turned the ball over the second time and we scored, it really changed the game," Cherpak said. 'Then we made a couple more big plays, returned that pick for a touchdown and things kind of snowballed."

Again, that's usually what happens when teams play Thomas Jefferson.

There is some good news for the Hillers, who face a critical game at unbeaten Elizabeth Forward (3-0, 1-0) next Friday. Tailback Dan Miller rushed for 102 yards and six weeks remain in the regular season.

"A loss like this hurts you emotionally but we'll be able to fix the football," Dalton said.

Trinity was selected by Big Seven Conference coaches to finish second behind Thomas Jefferson. With five conference games left, a lot can happen.

"Trinity always gets better as the year goes on," Cherpak said. "This is the first conference game. I'm sure, like us, they don't know if some of the kids starting now will be starting in a few weeks.

"You know, this conference is kind of crazy but Trinity will be fine. They'll be in the playoffs for sure."

Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

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