JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tough to top the week the Trinity Christian football team just had.
The Conquerors won the Class 3A state championship on Wednesday night in Tallahassee with a masterful comeback against Hollywood Chaminade Madonna that delivered the Conquerors the eighth — unquestionably the most dramatic — in program history.
That also happened to be the first day of the early signing period for football players across the country.
So, Conquerors players like Marcus Burke, Corey Coley and CJ Ross all signed their letters of intent that day and then wrapped up their careers hours later with a 25-22 win that went down to the final second.
On Friday, those players were back on campus for the last bit of football business — celebrating their signings in front of friends and family. Burke (Florida), Coley (Maryland) and Ross (South Florida) were joined by tackle Austin Barber in the celebration. Barber was a late addition to the signing party, earning an offer from Florida late Thursday and committing shortly after that.
“Dream come true,” said Barber. “They told me not to sign until Friday because they had something working so I believed them. I couldn’t pass up my opportunity to play at the Swamp, so I’m happy. What a week.”
What a week is right.
The state championship win over Chaminade was epic.
Trinity trailed 16-0 at halftime and needed every ounce of muscle over the final 24 minutes to grind out the program’s eighth title in program history.
The Conquerors used a fourth-and-goal touchdown run from Kaleb Killian to get on the board in the third quarter and a 19-yard field goal by Caleb Stevenson in the fourth to get within reach. Then, the big plays happened.
Quarterback Jacory Jordan found Burke on a 51-yard touchdown with 6:56 to go for the Conquerors’ first lead of the game. That duo would come up large again after Chaminade drove the field and scored with 3:03 remaining grab another lead.
The Conquerors drove the field and faced a fourth-and-long with the season on the line at the Lions 26. Jordan said that the initial playcall was to put it over Burke’s outside shoulder so that he could get out of bounds and set up another play.
Instead, they went for it all.
“I knew it was going to Burke,” Barber said. “I knew fourth and 7. I knew before the play was called. I said ‘Burke, it’s going to you, be ready.’”
Jordan said that plan changed when he saw Burke get some space and he let it fly. Burke reeled it in and later threw a two-point conversion pass for the final margin. That play came with 48 seconds to go. And Trinity’s defense did the rest, with Johnathan Goddard Jr. supplying to final sack as time ran out to ice it.
“I know it’s do or die, so I got to catch the ball [in that situation] no matter what,” Burke said. “This is the best week of my life.”
For Burke and Trinity as a whole, it proved that it’s not how you start but how you finish.
Burke been injured much of the season with a hamstring issue and didn’t begin to get going close to full speed until the start of the state playoffs. And the Conquerors started off sluggish, drilled in their season opener against Bolles (36-12) while playing with a slew of young players forced to grow up quickly.
Those young players evolved and grew up along the way, ripping off 12 consecutive wins and winning the only state championship by an area team in 2020.
“It’s been great, knowing that we can come out, all the work we did in the summer paid off and get a state championship, it feels great,” Jordan said.
“That loss to Bolles is what we needed. We faced adversity in the beginning of the year and we just kept building on it throughout the year. And it came out to get us one of these [state championship medal]. Really blessed.”