TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It was the matchup that everyone expected to happen this season from the moment the district and regions were released as part of the one-year FHSAA reclassification cycle that came about due to COVID-19.
And on Thursday night, that happened when Trinity Christian and Champagnat Catholic met up at Gene Cox Stadium for the 2021 FHSAA Class 2A State Championship with the Conquerors coming away with their ninth overall state championship victory in school history with a 41-23 victory over the Lions.
Here are our six takeaways from the game.
TALE OF TWO QUARTERS IN THE FIRST HALF
If you are looking for a storyline, to sum up, the first half of play in this game, it was the fact that all 21 points of the first half were scored in the first quarter before defenses settled in to control the second quarter.
Champagnat Catholic got the show going fast only taking less than two-and-half minutes off the clock when Ennio Yapoor found Kelvin Blount on a deep 40-yard pass to get the Lions up on the board first with a 7-0 lead.
NOTE: In our tweet, the touchdown was credited to the wrong player which was announced by the P.A. announcer. We have noted that in our recap here with the correct receiver who caught the touchdown.
But Trinity Christian was ready for an answer, fast…
That answer was in the name of a 43-yard Treyaun Webb carry that would start the streak of 27 unanswered points by the Conquerors when Webb rolled into the endzone with 8:22 left in the first quarter.
It would be with 3:48 left in the first quarter when freshman quarterback Colin Hurley found Seth Bialek in the endzone to put the Conquerors up 14-7 and where they would hold on to the lead from there for the rest of the game.
In the second quarter, it became a defensive stalemate when both teams combined for three punts, two turnovers, and a turnover on downs.
Trinity Christian would get credited with a punt, interception, and a turnover on downs on their three drives in the second quarter while Champagnat Catholic would be forced to punt twice and give the ball away back to the Conquerors after having taken the ball away on an interception.
IT WAS THE WEBB AND ROGERS SHOW
Treyaun Webb and Darnell Rogers turned on an impressive show with a combined 346 yards on the ground and five touchdowns on the night with both rushing for 173 yards each.
Webb finished the night with 22 carries on the ground with two touchdowns to his name while Rogers finished with 17 carries and three touchdowns.
The dominating performance by both Webb and Rogers was one of the key components that Trinity Christian head coach Verlon Dorminey came into the game which has been like that for the entire 2021 season.
BATTLE OF FRESHMAN QUARTERBACKS
No one can exactly remember – or if ever – that a state championship game featured two freshman starting quarterbacks.
With Trinity Christian starting Colin Hurley and Champagnat Catholic with Ennio Yapoor, both quarterbacks had thrown over 2,000 yards at least coming into the state championship game.
In the game, Yapoor performed overall statistically better going 21-of-34 passing for 332 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Yapoor also had one rushing touchdown but also fumbled the ball as well which fortunately did not turn into points for the Conquerors.
The fourth quarter turned into the madness of sorts where Darnell Rogers would score all three of his touchdowns of the night while the Lions tried every which way to get back into the game to try to keep the hopes of a third straight state championship escape out of their hands.
On Champagnat’s second to last touchdown drive came one of the more unusual plays of the night when Yappor called his own number going in for an 11-yard touchdown to draw closer to the Conquerors, but then hauled in the two-point conversion tossed to him by Marvin Sims to bring the score to 27-15.
In the final three minutes of the game, three touchdowns were scored including a one-yard rushing touchdown from Rogers with 2:53 left that a lot of people thought was going to seal the game to make it 34-15 Conquerors.
However, as quickly as those points were scored, Champagnat Catholic scored right back with only 33 seconds taken off the clock on a Marvin Sims 51-yard reception from Yapoor to bring the score to 34-23.
In the end, though Rogers quickly put any hopes of a Champagnat Catholic come back out of reach with a final touchdown with 1:51 to go to make the score 41-23.
MORRELL AND ANDERSON LEAD DEFENSE
Linebackers Caden Morrell and Cameron Anderson once again showed why they were trusted to lead the Conquerors’ defense this season and they showed it in a big way on Thursday night.
Morrell finished the night with nine total tackles along with one-and-half sacks and three tackles for loss, recovering the fumble from Champagnat Catholic in the second quarter and breaking a huge pass play later on in the game.
For Anderson, he led the team in sacks with 2.5 sacks and finished the night with seven total tackles, two-and-half tackles for loss, and forced a fumble as well.
LEGACY GROWS EVEN FURTHER
Verlon Dorminey, who reached 300 career victories during the regular season added to that total tonight, but more importantly added a ninth overall state championship to his record and to the school’s record.
Dorminey, who has been the only coach in Trinity Christian’s history to take them to the playoffs, saw this postseason a little differently than all the others that had come before this due to a medical situation during Thanksgiving week that left him listening to the call of the game from the bedside while his assistant coaches, kept the team going.
Dorminey credited offensive coordinator Gerard Ross with keeping things going for the Conquerors, in their regional final game against St. John Paul II (Tallahassee) as well as helping prepare the team for their state semifinals against a very tough Orlando Christian Prep, a game that was down 21-9 at one point before coming back in the second half to win it.
And for Ross… the team gave him the Gatorade bath instead as thanks for helping keep things together when things could have fallen apart.
COACH’S WORD – VERLON DORMINEY