The Trenton Tigers dominated the visiting Lafayette County Hornets 40-14 in the Class 1A Region 3 semi-finals Friday evening.
The Tigers were fired up as the music was rocking and the smoke was billowing from the tunnel as the reigning 1A State Champs entered the field carrying the American flag and the THS orange and black Tiger flag.
The Tiger defense made their statement in the first quarter as they forced the Hornets to commit several mistakes to take a 21-0 lead going into the second quarter.
Michael Smith, the Tigers quarterback, doubled as a cornerback on defense when he Picked-6 the Hornets Brycen Lee, (verbal commit to Eastern Kentucky) and returned it 90-yards for the score. Marcus Mannerstedt kicked the extra point for the Tigers. Trenton’s offense got the ball back and Brooks Martin pulled in a 10-yard pass from Smith for the score. Mannerstedt added the PAT for a 14-0 edge. The Tiger offense capitalized on two drives with a 4 yard run by Tre McCleese, and a 1 yard run by Kade Rogers as Marcus kicked the PATs for the Tigers 28-0 lead.
Mayo’s outstanding senior quarterback connected with Kenny Johnson on a 53-yard strike for the Hornets only score in the first half. With time running out in the first half, the Tigers drove to the Hornets 33 when Coach Thomas gave the award winning kicker a shot at his longest field goal of his young career. Mannerstedt and Michael Smith set the Tigers up kicking into the blowing north wind. The distance would be 43 yards and the junior kicker split the uprights of the goal posts as the Tigers and their fans roared when the official’s arms rose straight up to show the kick was good. Trenton took a 31-6 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter Mayo’s Tim Fleming pulled in a short pass from Lee and ran 14 yards for a score. Lee threw to Will Boney on a conversion attempt for the Hornets last points of this game. In the middle of the third period, Lee had been able to stand back in the offensive pocket to pick away at the Tiger defense.
Coach Thomas, as he walked up and down the Tiger’s sideline, explained, he wanted more pressure by the Tigers’ defense applied on the Hornets QB. Moments later the sacks began to add up. Trenton’s Kade Rogers, Tre McCleese, Billy McKeefrey, Darry Danzy and the Tiger’s defense had Brycen Lee running for his life. Mannerstedt kicked a 32-yard field goal in the third period. Tre McCleese broke the Hornet’s back in the final period when he ripped through the defense on a 57-yard run for the score. Mannerstedt added the PAT for the Tiger’s 40-14 victory.
“This is a great win for us, but we have a lot of work yet to do,” Thomas explained. The head coach set the Tigers intensive practice schedule up for next week as they prepare for the Hamilton County Trojans. The Trojans 8-3 won District 5 and have defeated Union County, Fort White, and several other powerhouse teams in 2014.
The Region 3 final is set for Friday night, as Jasper will be in The Jungle for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Hamilton County is a good football team and they will present several challenges for the Tiger defense with their big play offensive capability.
Friday night could be the last home game for the reigning 1A state champs, so come to The Jungle and cheer the Tigers to a playoff victory. Go Tigers!
By John M. Ayers