JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They’ve both been here before. They’re both defending state champions.
But when Trinity Christian and Hialeah Champagnat Catholic collide at 7 p.m. on Thursday night in Tallahassee for the Class 2A state championship, it’s the best of the best from two classifications squeezed into one.
Champagnat is seeking a threepeat and fifth title overall.
Trinity is going for back-to-back crowns and its ninth crown in program history.
The catch — Trinity won its title last year in Class 3A, a miraculous, come-from-behind, 25-22 thriller over Chaminade-Madonna. Champagnat bounced University Christian in the Class 2A title game to claim its second straight crown. When reclassification happened, Trinity moved down from 3A to 2A, almost assuring that the two champs would meet at some point to determine who the best in 2A was.
That time has arrived.
For the Conquerors, it’s back to business as usual.
After two weeks away, longtime coach Verlon Dorminey plans to be back on the sidelines leading the team. Dorminey missed playoff wins over Quincy Munroe and Orlando Christian Prep due to illness.
“The first one, I didn’t watch from the sideline, I really listened to it from the bed. he second one I watched from the sideline, and that’s hard if you’ve been on the sideline, 31 years, you know, and never missed a game,” he said.
“But, you know, I was proud. Our coaches did a great job. Our kids did a great job. And I told her I told our coaches and our kids that day I said, you know, when you build something and you walk away from it, and it continues to just work, without any problems … you’re glad that, you know, it’s that way.”
Trinity’s road through the postseason has followed a very similar path this season.
Big defense and a whole lot of Treyaun Webb.
The defense was tough in Trinity’s first two playoff games, choking out St. John Paul II for a shutout (the only points it allowed were on a pick-six). Keaton Thomas had two of Trinity’s three interceptions against Munroe and Johnathan Goddard Jr. returned a fumble 60 yards for a touchdown as part of a five-takeaway night. And without that defense, Trinity’s season likely would have ended against Orlando Christian Prep last week. OCP had four downs inside the 5, including a play from the 1. But Caden Morrell and Deon Briggs made a touchdown-saving stop that could have saved the season.
Players say that they expect to do that after playing a rugged schedule and losing four games over the final five weeks of the regular season.
“We didn’t have an easy schedule this year. We played some really good teams. And it feels really good to know that we can compete with the best,” Thomas said. “So, those losses were tough but I think they they hardened us so when the game was on the line we could make big plays and make a big win.”
Webb has been on another level in the playoffs. He ripped off a 99-yard touchdown run right after that fourth-down stop against OCP to give the Conquerors some breathing room.
His production in the state playoffs has been staggering. The big reason for Webb’s breakout stretch — health.
For the majority of his career, Webb has been banged up, healing or unavailable due to an assortment of tough luck injuries. Those injuries kept him limited or off the field completely during last year’s state championship run.
“Kind of like a redemption tour for me because last year I didn’t play in the state game due to injury. So, I felt like this year I have to play in it and earn it myself because last year I felt like I didn’t earn it because I didn’t play. So, this year is kind of like a redemption.
Webb had a spot on the sideline to see Jacory Jordan and Marcus Burke deliver Trinity an epic 25-22 win that went down to the final second.
“My teammates made plays. I had to watch. I was happy for them, as far as like, seeing my brother’s make plays,” Webb said. “But obviously I wanted to be one making plays, too. I felt like I wanted to contribute to my team. I didn’t get a chance to do that. So, this year I’m trying to contribute too, like Marcus and Jacory did, and be legendary, like them.”
Dorminey said he’s ready for anything come Thursday night. Just because the Conquerors won a title in a bigger classification last season doesn’t translate into anything this time.
“Just because you were there last year doesn’t mean you’re going to win it again this year,” Dorminey said. “Because everybody who gets there fought their rear ends off to get this opportunity. These kids, just like I said, they’re resilient. Proud of them. Hope we get an opportunity to go play well, represent the city.”
Class 2A state championship
Trinity Christian (9-4) vs. Champagnat Catholic (10-2)
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: Gene Cox Stadium, Tallahassee.
Watch it: Live stream on Spectrum is $9.99. Tickets can be purchased here.
Listen: The radio broadcast audio stream can be heard through Trinity Christian’s Mixlr channel here.
Follow it: Follow WJXT on Twitter @JustinBarneyTV and @JStCyrTV for continuous updates from the game.
Road here: Trinity d. St. John Paul II, 44-7; d. Quincy Munroe, 39-22; d. Orlando Christian Prep, 29-22; Champagnat d. Glades Day, 35-7; d. John Carroll Catholic, 38-28; d. First Baptist Academy, 27-8. Both teams had first-round byes.