Raymond Bureau | JULY, 2021
Head Coach Verlon Dorminey, 31st season 8 State Championships, 2 Runners Up
2020: 12-1 Record, Class 3A State Champions
The 2021 FHSAA high school football season is only weeks away, and the Trinity Christian Academy Conquerors are looking to repeat their state championship title again since winning four in a row from 2013-2016.
The Conquerors were 12-1 and winners of 12 straight and on route to their eighth title overall. They battled through and overcame injuries all season and finished with a come-from-behind second half in the title game to capture their fifth championship as members of Florida’s Class 3A.
The 2020 season started with a tough loss to crosstown rival Bolles, a game Trinity played with many starters out hurt. The Conquerors suffered numerous injuries throughout the season’s first half; they returned to full strength midway through the season, but the injuries continued.
In Week 2, the Conquerors came back from a 21-13 fourth-quarter deficit to 6A Columbia to win by a touchdown; they never trailed again until a 3-0 halftime deficit vs. Baldwin in the first round of the playoffs.
The only other times they were behind were the 16-0 halftime margin and the fourth-quarter 22-17 deficit in the state championship game.
Trinity’s defense also had a run of eight consecutive games of single-digit points allowed from week 3 through the second round of playoffs.
Trailing 16-0 to three-time defending 3A champion Chaminade-Madonna, the Conquerors overcame more injuries in the backfield. Kaleb Killian battled a strained hamstring, but still garnered the bulk of the rushing yards; both Tito Butler and Treyaun Webb missed the game due to injuries. Killian, though, scored twice, Caleb Stevenson hit a 19-yard field goal, and Jacory Jordan hit Marcus Burke for a pair of touchdowns. The second TD pass gave the lead back to TCA at 23-22. The Conquerors then pulled off an amazing two-point conversion, and the defense stopped a last-minute comeback effort from Chaminade Madonna, thanks to Jonathan Goddard’s game-ending sack at midfield.
Head Coach Verlon Dorminey called the biggest factor of the comeback the improved blocking both at and behind the line of scrimmage in the second half. That effective blocking allowed all the scoring plays to occur.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS
The championship team lost many key players to graduation, but the Conquerors still have a plethora of talent at all positions in 2021. Junior running back Treyaun Webb will lead the running game with sophomore Darnell Rogers and others providing plenty of assistance. Senior receivers Fred Highsmith, L.J. Kelley, and Xander Ross will become the main targets for freshman quarterback Colin Hurley.
This year's offense will have the protection of another formidable offensive line led by senior Michael Trimble. Returning to the line are sophomore Tyler Cline and junior Dorean Lang-Cleveland. Younger Conquerors will move up and help provide protection for Hurley.
Seniors Jonathan Goddard and Harold Stubbs return to help lead a younger defensive secondary, and the mighty senior defensive back Caden Morrell has many Division 1 schools looking at him. Senior Deon Briggs will help form the brick wall on the defensive line, and a number of former JV Conquerors have shown themselves ready to contribute to another potential championship season.
Junior Seth Bialek is the new starting kicker for the Conquerors.
Taking the snaps is Hurley, the #2-rated quarterback in the country for his class. Hurley already has varsity playoff experience. Newcomer and two-way man Keaton Thomas will become one of Hurley’s receiving targets and help patrol the defensive secondary.
The offensive line will receive a boost from transfers Shaun Davis (Sr), Christian Marcum (Jr), Peyton Satterwhite (Jr), and Malachi Young (Jr).
TOUGHEST PART OF SCHEDULE
As always, the Conquerors will play one of the toughest schedules in the league – by design. The regular season begins at 5A Raines, an annual state contender. The season ends with two trips to Tallahassee’s FSU High School and Lincoln sandwiched around a home game with Lee.
When asked where his toughest stretch of games is, though, Coach Dorminey highlighted the middle of the schedule as key to the Conquerors’ potential playoff positioning. Weeks 5, 6, and 7 have the Conquerors battling perennial powerhouses Columbia (away), Bolles (away), and American Heritage Plantation (home). Bolles was last season’s 4A state runner up, and American Heritage won the 5A championship.
Three consecutive home games pit the Conquerors against Ribault, Zarephath Academy, and Clearwater Academy International in Weeks 2, 3, and 4, respectively.
See Trinity’s schedule on MaxPreps here. The preseason game at Tallahassee’s Rickards is on Friday, August 27. The regular season begins at Raines at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 3.
MOVING TO CLASS 2A
The Conquerors have moved down a class into 2A, Region 1 for 2021. Coach Dorminey expressed his sentiments about the move. “It’s out of our control,” he said. “FHSAA decides where we play based on enrollment. We could move back up to 3A next season.”
POTENTIAL POSTSEASON MATCH-UPS
Jacksonville’s University Christian (Region 1) is a Class 2A state contender every year and was the 2020 state runner-up. Tallahassee’s North Florida Christian is also a big 2A team in Region 1. Trinity could face either foe at any point in the regional playoffs.
Region 4’s Champagnat Catholic won last year’s 2A title and could meet Trinity in this season’s championship game while Region 3 contains some of the best high school football in Southwest Florida.
Coach Dorminey does not look ahead too much. “We have to get to the postseason
first,” he said. “We just need to win week by week, and we will see what happens.” Playoff seeding returns to its point-system basis, which depends on wins, opponents’ wins, and opponents’ opponents’ wins.
The FHSAA 2A region classification appears on Page 9 of the “Football Classifications” section of fhsaa.com, found here.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE PREPARING FOR THE NEW SEASON
Every new season brings its challenges as coaches replace departed athletes with transfers and previous reserves moving up into more crucial roles.
“We lost many great players/kids who graduated,” said Dorminey. “The biggest challenge is playing with a younger team that will have to grow up quickly. They will be indoctrinated by fire. The coaches have to make sure the young players realize they are playing varsity football.” For example, Hurley, last year’s JV quarterback, will start the regular season against one of North Florida’s best defenses in Raines. “There is no break with the schedule our team plays,” said Dorminey.
“This will be a fun year, a fun season, and we are excited about starting,” said Dorminey. “We are as close to being as normal as it can be after last year. We have been fortunate to make the playoffs 26 straight years.” The Conquerors look to continue this tremendous string of success in 2021.
2020 SENIORS NOW PLAYING COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Jacory Jordan, Florida A&M
Lucius Lattimore, Florida A&M
Kaleb Killian, Air Force
Terrell Jackson, Air Force
Corey Coley, Maryland
Marcus Burke, Florida
Austin Barber, Florida
Jeremiah Johnson, Morehouse College
Jahron Williams, North Central College
Kensley Johnson, Keizer University
C.J. Ross, South Florida
Niles Johnson, Fork Union (Virginia)
TCA CONQUERORS CURRENTLY IN THE NFL
Andre Smith, Buffalo Bills
Kevin Toliver, Denver Broncos
Isaiah Ford, Miami Dolphins
Shaun Wade, Baltimore Ravens
Jeff Holland, Atlanta Falcons
Javon Hagan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers