George Rogers Clark football coach Steve Collins knows the odds will be against his team when the Cardinals take on Louisville Trinity in the opening round of the playoffs. He also realizes the contest presents an “opportunity” to do “great things.”
“It’s our opportunity,” Collins said earlier this week. “Trinity is Trinity, but (the players) are excited. We talked about it (Monday). It’s an opportunity to go up there and line up against the best and see how we gauge ourselves and how we do. There’s no intimidation or anything like that. We respect them and they’ve set the benchmark for what everybody is trying to go out and do. It’s a big challenge, but also a big opportunity to go up there and see what we’re about.”
The two schools open the postseason with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday night at Harry Jansing Field at Marshall Stadium in the second-ever meeting between the two teams. The Cardinals defeated the Shamrocks in the Class 4A semifinals during the school’s state championship run in 1991.
“They keep mentioning 1991, but I was in Georgia and these kids weren’t even born yet,” Collins said with a laugh. “I had nothing to with that. But that’s part of our tradition and we’re the only team in the state that (probably) has a winning record against them. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since we’ve played Trinity (in football).”
Collins said his team will “prepare just like any other week.”
“We’re going to prepare this week to win,” Collins said. “We’re going to try to see what weaknesses they have and try to expose those, use those to our advantage.”
The Clark coach added that the playoff opener is about “execution.”
“It’s (about) technique,” he said. “It’s not about scheme, not about trying to trick them, it’s just about simple execution — lining up — fundamentally and technically doing our job, whether that be blocking, tackling or whatever and be sound in those things. Running the right assignment, all of those type things. If we can do that, I certainly like the way we’re going to compete and have a chance. Who knows?¿I told the kids, I¿never go into a game saying, ‘hey, great season, we’re going to go in a lose.’ I wouldn’t be sitting here if we do that. I want to win, we want to win this week.
“We know it’s a daunting task, but in this game of high school football, crazier things have happened.”
Although a heavy underdog, the Cardinals enter the postseason on a high note following a 44-26 victory over Rowan County in the regular-season finale, ending the Cardinals’ 12-game losing streak and giving Collins his first victory as Clark coach. The win ended a nine-game losing streak to open the season. Clark lost its final three games of the season a year ago.
Collins said the win was a relief for the Cards who gained a dose of luck following several close calls, including a narrow 13-12 loss in the season opener at Corbin.
“It was good coming in on Monday with the “W” behind you,” the Clark coach said. “We were a lot more loose and the kids were a lot more relaxed, because some of the pressure was off of them, just trying too much, but they played well Friday. They played together, played hard and good things happened.”
The Shamrocks (8-1) closed the regular season with a 45-42 loss to Archbishop Moeller last week, but remain one of the teams to beat in the postseason.
“Trinity reminds me of a lot of the programs where I’ve been in the past in Georgia,” Collins said. “They have a lot of tradition and they’re nationally ranked. I’m kind of used to those kind programs. They’ve rolled out the red carpet and they have great facilities. It’s going to be a great experience not just for our football team, but for our community, school and administration.”
GRCHS at Trinity
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Clark 1-9. Trinity 8-1
Last week: Clark 44, Rowan Co. 26; Cincinnati Moeller 45, Trinity 42
Last meeting: Clark 28, Trinity 20. Class 4A semifinals, Nov. 29, 1991
Radio: 107.7 FM¿WKYN