HomeSportsLions look to keep winning, turn tables in USJ series

Lions look to keep winning, turn tables in USJ series

Daniel Cashion and Halen Wilkerson are a couple of seniors for the Trinity Christian football team who play up front on the Lions’ offensive line.

Defensively, Cashion stays up front as a defensive tackle, and Wilkerson moves back to linebacker.

But they’re both involved on both sides of the ball and both enjoying the changes that have come with TCA football this season under new coach Darren Bowling.

“He definitely brings a more physical style of practice, which means we’re more physical when we play,” Cashion said about the difference. “And that means we’re hitting and tackling more in practice, and no one is complaining about that.

“But he told us when he got here that we were going play physical style of football, and we are.”

The last couple weeks have been frustrating for the TCA football program.

After a big come-from-behind win over Chester County in Week 1, the Lions were ready to get back out on the field in Week 2 against Grace Christian Academy from Franklin. Kickoff was already moved back an hour because of concerns with heat as nearly every game in the state was pushed back at least an hour.

But then TCA wound up not playing at all when the lights in the stadium had trouble coming on as the sun began to set. By 9:30 on Friday night, game officials said if the lights weren’t working sufficiently by that point, there was no other alternative but to cancel the game because of the long trip home Grace had.

“That was frustrating because we were fired up for that game and we knew it was going to happen,” Wilkerson said. “And we get out there and go through pregame and it still didn’t happen.

“We were ready and fired up to get after it and then we were just left hungry.”

But the team is using the frustrations from Friday night as a positive for this week.

Both players said the team has practiced with a greater degree of focus as they prepare for this week’s game.

But they doubt they would need any more reason to be focused this week as next up for the Lions is their home game against University School of Jackson.

The Bruins are coming off an emotional come-from-behind win of their own over Union City in which running back Noah Spencer crossed the goal line twice in the fourth quarter to give the Bruins a 20-19 win. The week before that, they came close to shutting out Peabody but beat the Golden Tide 14-7.

“We’ve watched them on film, and they’re playing hungry too,” Wilkerson said. “They’re playing aggressively, and they’ve come out swinging in both of their games.”

Both players say the team so far has done a good job of simply focusing on that week’s opponent. They celebrated the Chester County win the night it happened, and then that was over by Saturday and they were focused on Grace.

“As soon as we heard we weren’t playing Friday night, we were mad about it for a few minutes then we all started focusing on USJ,” Cashion said.

Both of the Lions have been at Trinity since they were in kindergarten. They know how much TCA fans want to see them win over USJ and how USJ’s fans feel toward TCA. The schools’ campuses are less than a three-minute drive (staying within the speed limit) from each other, and there are a lot of close friendships or extended family relationships that line up against each other.

It’s the definition of a bragging rights football rivalry.

And while TCA is motivated to win the rivalry game, Cashion said the coaching staff and players are doing a good job of approaching it as a game on their schedule.

“We’ve seen the film, we know what they can do and how they do it and we’ve got our game plan,” Cashion said. “We want to win this, but we also know we’ve got to play smart too.”

But Wilkerson did admit he’d like to be able to beat USJ once before his varsity football career is done. TCA hasn’t won in this series since 2014.

“That’s been mentioned this week as we can be the team that gets a win in this game, so we’re going to try to do that,” Wilkerson said.

Brandon Shields,

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