Trinity duo makes Class AAA All-State team
By Doug Street, Staff writer
It was hard to tell who was more excited to hear that two Trinity football players were named to the Associated Press Class AAA All-State football team Friday, head coach Ed Dalton or the players.
"That's just great, awesome news," Dalton said when learning that junior defensive lineman Ken Wilkins and senior offensive tackle Nate Lojek were named to the team. Wilkins was a first-team selection and Lojek earned a spot on the second team.
"You just made my weekend."
"I'm very surprised, shocked," Lojek said.
Considering the pipeline of quality players Trinity has produced and seen make the all-state team, Dalton shouldn't be surprised two more earned this honor.
Because of the way both players performed this season, they shouldn't be shocked, either.
Only a junior, Wilkins became a dominant force on the Hillers' defensive line. At 6-4, 245 pounds and a 4.6-40-yard dash time on his resume, Wilkins used his size, speed and quickness to terrorize opposing offenses.
"The sky is the limit for him," Dalton said of Wilkins. "He's one of the most phenomenal, naturally gifted athletes I've ever been around. He was born with gifts that a lot of people couldn't imagine having."
Wilkins seemed to save his best for Trinity's best opponents. If he wasn't racking up tackle and sack numbers, Wilkins also had a nose for the football. He scored two defensive touchdowns down the stretch as the Hillers made a late push to again make the WPIAL playoffs.
Dalton said Wilkins will likely have at least 20 NCAA Division I scholarship offers by the time the recruiting process is done. The scary thing for Trinity opponents is, Dalton believes Wilkins can be much better.
"His only downside is his consistency," Dalton said. "He has to push himself to a higher level. He has a great motor but he needs to go at full speed every play and he knows that."
Lojek had no choice but to play hard on every down, considering he usually was left in one-on-one blocking situations.
The 6-4, 302-pounder played "split" tackle - usually left tackle - for the Hillers. He was moved to the position during the season. Once Lojek got comfortable, his blocking was a big reason the Hillers' offense was able to help Trinity make that late-season push.
"He's so athletic for as big as he is," Dalton said. "His excellent pass blocking on the split side really helped us make that run at the end."
Lojek gave a lot of the credit for his success to assistant coach Ryan Daloia, who made the big senior more technically sound.
"(Daloia) really helped and worked with me the last couple of years," Lojek said. "He worked a lot with me on technique and just knowing how to block correctly."
Lojek has a number of scholarship offers from Division I-AA schools, such as New Hampshire, Maine, Duquesne, Robert Morris, along with Division I-A Toledo. Lojek said he will wait until after the holidays to take his official visits before making his choice.
This is the fourth year in a row that at least one Trinity player has made the all-state team. Wilkins and Lojek follow Andrew Miller (2005), Andrew Sweat (2006) and Sweat and Mike Yancich (2007).
It's an impressive run of talent to consistently earn such high honors and Lojek said that speaks to the quality of the coaching staff.
"Coach Dalton and all of the coaches have done a great job," Lojek said. "They really helped us all get where we are today."
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