Trinity aims for third title in five years

Hardly unique, but so appropriate, the T-shirt slogan of a Euless Trinity football supporter reads: "We don't rebuild. We reload.''

This was not supposed to be Trinity's year. Not with so many untested underclassmen in important spots. Not after starting the season with two losses in its first three games. Not with leading rusher Tevin Williams sidelined with another right knee injury before the playoffs started.

But nobody told Trinity's players.

The Trojans, winners of 12 straight, will play for their third Class 5A Division I state championship in the last five years at 2 p.m. Saturday against Austin Westlake at San Antonio's Alamodome.

"We couldn't have expected this,'' coach Steve Lineweaver said. "We couldn't have hoped for it. This was such a young team.''

Inexperienced no longer after 15 games, Trinity remains a team without stars. No Trinity player is listed among the state's top 100 college recruits. But with each playoff success, a new hero emerges.

"In years when we've had nationally ranked teams, the only feeling you have when you win is relief,'' Lineweaver said.

Saturday's 35-28 state semifinal victory over Round Rock Stony Point in Waco produced pure joy. There was Lineweaver, 63, dancing his way up the ramp to the locker room as Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" blared.

Junior quarterback Willie Hubbard, no longer considered a liability because of rookie varsity status, was an efficient 7 of 9 passing for 201 yards and three touchdowns.

Trinity has less size this season but more game-breaking speed at the skill positions with running back Terrance Tusan (5-5, 143) and wide receivers Bobby Brown (5-6, 147) and Brandon Carter (5-11, 153). Three Trinity touchdown plays against Stony Point covered more than 55 yards.

The one constant in Lineweaver's 10 seasons: Trinity wins because it blocks and tackles better than its opponents.

But don't expect Westlake to be intimidated by Trinity's playoff history.

Westlake is making its 22nd straight playoff appearance. It has reached the state title game six times, winning only in 1996. Quarterback Drew Brees led Westlake past Abilene Cooper, 55-15.

Darren Allman is making a great impression in his first season as Westlake coach. Allman split games against Trinity in 2007 when he was coach at Odessa Permian, winning in nondistrict but losing in the playoffs.

Middle linebacker Bryce Hager (6-2, 215) leads the Westlake defense with 150 tackles and 11 sacks. He is the son of Britt Hager, a nine-year NFL veteran linebacker who played college ball at Texas.

Offensively, Westlake depends on speedy quarterback Tanner Price (6-2, 195). Junior Van Gramman rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 42-27 semifinal win over Katy Cinco Ranch.

Trends point to a high-scoring game. In the playoffs, Westlake is averaging 39 points and allowing 21. Trinity is averaging 50 -- after scoring 88 points in a bi-district win over Flower Mound -- and is giving up 26.