COVID-19 is not behind us yet, but for Trenton football there has been a return to some normalcy.
“We were trying to keep it as normal as we could last year, but it’s been good having spring practice and not having to worry about having a meeting to delay, cancel, or postpone, so it’s good,” said Trenton football coach Bill Wiles.
The Tigers looked good in their spring game this past May, a 38-18 win over Interlachen. That bodes well for the fall.
“We have a good group of kids coming back,” Wiles said. “We’re a little thin at certain positions so we’ve got to build some depth, and we’ve got to create some depth. We’re going to have to move some people around.”
The key to this year will be staying healthy. That’s a common theme for 1A schools who typically have athletes who must play on both sides of the ball.
“We had a really good spring and we unfortunately lost a couple of kids this summer (one moved and the other decided he didn’t want to play football),” Wiles said. “That happens, but when you are at a small school one kid is an offensive lineman, defensive lineman, on the punt return team, whatever, so it dings you up a little bit.”
The top two players offensively this fall will be quarterback Tyler Perry, who will also play safety and outside linebacker, and 215-pound running back Tristan Sloan.
“We need to figure out a way to get them the ball,” Wiles said. “We’ll go offensively as they go.”
Perry, who will be a senior, doesn’t throw it a lot but he completed 53.2 percent of his passes with four TDs and only one interception. He did most of the damage with his legs by averaging 5.7 yards per carry and scoring four rushing touchdowns.
“I just want to go out with a bang,” Perry said. “I want to make it as far as possible, maybe even state.”
Sloan, who ran a 4.5 in the 40, was third on the team as a junior with 388 yards rushing in only seven games (6.2 yards per carry) and he led the team with seven rushing scores. He also led the team with a whopping 12 tackles per game.
“He’s tough,” Wiles said. “He can run. We’ve just got to keep him healthy.”
Jaron Riley looked good in the spring game and gives the Tigers some much needed depth in the backfield.
Kyle Pollack, who will play safety, defensive end, and outside linebacker, will be more involved in the passing game. He led the Tigers with 11 catches for 140 yards.
“He’s an outstanding tight end, receiver kid,” Wiles said. “He’s a swiss army knife on defense.”
K.J. Williams (180 pounds) will play running back and outside linebacker.
“He is an athlete,” Wiles said. “I think you are going to see some good things from him as he learns how to be a running back.”
Wiles raved about Williams on the other side of the ball.
“He’s a tremendous defensive player,” Wiles added. “There is not a better football player in 1A pound-for-pound in the state of Florida. You can’t block him.”
Williams, who had three tackles for a loss and a sack last year, is expected to shine on defense.
“Defense is my favorite part of the game,” he said. “I love defense. But we do have a couple of things we need to work on like tackling and pursuing the ball because sometimes we get tired so we don’t always run to the ball, but I have confidence in our defense.”
It’s a lot of the same names on defense. The key will be to have enough players in the secondary, which has been an issue for the Tigers in the past according to Wiles.
Wiles said Zach Braswell has a chance to be a really good player, along with Caleb Grossman, who played due to an injury and was a surprise last year. He can play five different positions.
“We’ve got some kids,” Wiles said. “We just got to make sure we do a good job coaching and get them in the right spot.”
Trenton will compete in Class 1A-Region 3 with Bell, Branford, Chiefland, Dixie County (Cross City), Fort White, Hilliard, Lafayette (Mayo), and Union County (Lake Butler). There will be six at-large qualifiers in each region based on points.
Wiles said the schedule is “way more manageable.” After five weeks last year, their opponents “were like 23-2.”
“We were 1-4, but we weren’t terrible,” he said. “Nobody knew that Wildwood was going to be a semifinalist in 1A and (2A) Cambridge Christian (Tampa) may have been one of the best football teams and best coached teams that I’ve played in 30 years. But when we started playing more 1A teams, we won games.”
Trenton will host Bronson tomorrow for the Kickoff Classic. The Tigers will travel to Jefferson County (Monticello) next Friday, Aug. 27, for the season opener.
Williams said there is one thing that has to happen for this to be a good season.
“Everybody has to be all in,” he said. “Everybody has to communicate with each other. The coaches and players all have to be on the same page. All in or all out.”
2021 Football Regular Season Schedule
Aug. 20 – vs. Bronson (Kickoff Classic)
Aug. 27 – at Jefferson County (Monticello)
Sept. 3 – at Dixie County (Cross City)
Sept. 10 – vs. Lafayette (Mayo)
Sept. 17 – vs. Crescent City
Oct. 1 – at Chiefland
Oct. 8 – vs. Branford
Oct. 15 – vs. Hamilton County (Jasper)
Oct. 22 – at Hilliard