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Trinity roaring toward the national stage

With Denton Edwards and his Trinity teammates starting the year off well, the SCAC title should be within reach.
Trinity atheltics photos

His goal is to build a winner, to return Trinity to the success it once enjoyed, and it’s safe to say head coach Jerheme Urban is on his way to doing that.

The Tigers won four games two years ago, eight games last season and are 2-1 in the first three games of the 2016 campaign.

Urban takes special pride in the Tigers, pride that goes beyond his role as a head coach. He is a former Tiger, one of the best wide receivers in school history, and was part of the 2002 team that marched all the way to the national championship game.

“This is a tradition-rich program, and we are trying to get it back there,” Urban said. “I take a lot of pride in the program because I played here, and our goal is to put this program back on a national level.”

Urban has seen the team take positive steps this season and likes the direction things are going in. There have been bumps along the way but the Tigers continue to push forward.

“We continue to grow as a team,” Urban said. “We had great opportunities in our first three games and have had highs and lows. There have been positive experiences and learning moments that we have definitely learned from.”

One of the concerns going into the season was at the running back position, but Evan McDowell has risen to the occasion, rushing for 368 yards and four touchdowns.

“The position was a big question mark. We weren’t sure who was going to step up. Evan has done a phenomenal job for us and the young guys behind him have performed well, too.”

And then there is quarterback Austin Grauer, who has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes (45-of-81) and thrown for 480 yards. He has thrown three touchdown passes as well.

Colby Doyal has kicked off the year going 3-4 on field goals and 6-8 on PATs.

“He is having a great year so far and continues to grow as a player,” Urban said. “We’ve seen him make a lot of improvement.”

A highly touted and talented defense that features Julian Turner, Luke Packard, Joshua Cook and Mitchell Globe has seen its share of ups and downs but is coming off a stellar performance against Pacific Lutheran in which it gave up only three points and  250 yards in a 9-3 victory at home.

“They did a nice job of tightening down last week and really played well as a unit,” Urban said. “They are starting to come into the form we saw them have last year.”

Last year, of course, was a great year for the Tigers, who went 8-2 and finished second in the SCAC.

But as Urban has reminded the players before, last year no longer matters.

“Last year is not this year,” Urban said. “We stumbled on the road (a 24-20 loss to Millsaps) but it was a great learning experience for us. Our focus is on each week as it comes. We don’t want to get caught looking ahead.”

Especially with the conference season just around the corner.

Unlike years past, the Tigers will play all three conference opponents twice and all six of those games will count in the standings.

“It’s hard to beat the same team twice, and we play in a tough conference,” Urban said. “Anyone can win on any given Saturday. It’s a physical league, and we have to be ready to match that physicality and play our best to win no matter who we are playing.”

No automatic bid is up for grabs in the SCAC, but there is always hope for an at-large spot in the postseason. Reigning conference champion Texas Lutheran earned one two years ago.

Thinking that far ahead, however, isn’t on the agenda for the Tigers. The one game at a time mentality is alive and well at Trinity.

“We can only control each game we play, and our goal is to take care of business every week and win the conference. We’ll see how it all shakes out with an at-large bid. But we are going to continue to work hard to get this program back to where it once was.”

Considering what the Tigers have accomplished already, they are on their way to doing just that.

Crusaders shine in big-time showdown

Mary Hardin-Baylor had played Linfield four times prior to Saturday’s battle of nationally ranked teams but always came up short. That includes last season’s gut-wrenching 38-35 loss to the Wildcats in the national quarterfinal round.

The fifth-ranked Cru jumped on the third-ranked Wildcats early, bolting out to a 10-0 lead and then used a dominant second-half performance to seal the deal. UMHB outscored Linfield 42-7 in the final two quarters of action.

The defense rose to the occasion, forcing five turnovers and holding strong on two fourth-down attempts.

The Cru limited the Wildcats to just 348 yards of total offense, including allowing only one yard on the ground. Matt Cody paved the way with 10 tackles. The senior linebacker ranks third on the team in tackles this season with 17 and is looking to earn All-ASC honors for the third consecutive year. He was a second-team selection a year ago.

Coulter carries Colonels to win

Nolan Coulter played a big role in Centre’s latest victory, rushing for a career-best 223 yards in the Colonels 39-28 win over Washington U. in their SAA opener Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.

Coulter’s previous best was 186 yards against Hendrix in 2014, and his tremendous effort helped Centre improve to 3-0 for the fourth consecutive season.

The Colonels have won eight consecutive games dating back to last season, and they snapped the Bears’ nine-game home win streak in the process.

Coulter, who scored two touchdowns, helped fuel an offense that ranked out 641 yards, the most since last September when the Colonels hung 769 rushing yards on Hanover in a 63-7 win.

Centre has scored at least 35 points in each of its first three games and is averaging 547 yards per game, thanks in part to Coulter, who has rushed for 328 yards and four touchdowns in the first three games.

Defense makes difference for Austin

Charles Eneh helped Austin College hold on for a 30-17 win over Whittier on Saturday. Eneh and the Kangaroos defense didn’t allow a point in the fourth quarter as Austin pulled away for the win after leading just 20-17 at the end of three.

Eneh racked up six tackles and has 26 on the year en route to leading the Kangaroos in tackles. The senior linebacker has been instrumental in helping Austin race out to a 2-1 start to the season.

Garrett Marcantel and Morris Shell are tied for second on the team in tackles with 14. The Kangaroos have given up just 17 points in each of their last two games and have allowed only 13 points total in the fourth quarter of games this season.

Sideline notes

Dante Nepa is only a freshman, but he played like a veteran in Chicago’s 35-16 win over Millsaps on Saturday. Nepa caught four passes, including three for touchdowns, and racked up 131 receiving yards as the Maroons improved to 1-1 and scored their most points since putting up 49 against Centre last September.

Tre Scallion rushed for three touchdowns but it wasn’t enough to help Texas Lutheran overcome five first-half turnovers in a 58-28 loss to Louisiana College on Saturday. Scallion rushed for 112 yards while Marquis Barrolle also went over 100 yards (117) in the loss. The Bulldogs are 0-3 and are in the midst of their toughest season since 2012 when they finished 4-6.

Patrick Morrison plays defense but that hasn’t stopped him from getting into the end zone. Morrison recovered a fumble and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown in McMurry’s 63-6 win over Texas College on Saturday. It marks the second consecutive week Morrison has scored a defensive touchdown. He is third on the team in scoring with 12 points.

If you have a great story idea or notable accomplishments that deserve a mention in this column, feel free to reach out to me at brian.lester@d3sports.com. You can also follow on Twitter @BLester1993

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com and wrote Around the Great Lakes for D3football.com from 2012-14. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

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