Lewis, Soria sign letters of intent, commitment to play college football

LewisSenior Michael Lews (center in UTEP shirt) stood with his team after signing his letter of intent to play college football for the University of Texas-El Paso on Wednesday, February 4 at Trinity High School. Lewis served as captain of the Trinity Tigers, which claimed its first district championship since 1988. His fellow teammate Manuel Soria also signed with McMurry University in Abilene. (Staff Photo: Cathy Faulkner)

By Elizabeth Evans and Cathy Faulkner

It was a proud week for Trinity High School as two senior members of the Trinity Tigers football team signed letters of intent and commitment to play college football, the first Trinity players to do so in a decade.

Team captain Michael Lewis signed his national letter of intent on Wednesday, February 4 to attend and play for the University of Texas-El Paso, where he projects to play defensive back and major in kinesiology.

MichaelLewisTrinityNLISenior Michael Lewis signed his letter of intent to play college football for the University of Texas-El Paso on Wednesday, February 4 at Trinity High School. Lewis was the captain of the Trinity Tigers and was part of three consecutive playoff appearances. Lewis will play defensive back for the Miners in the fall and plans to major in kinesiology. (Source: Coach Jarrod Smith)

Lewis also received a full-ride athletic scholarship from UTEP.

UTEP Miners head coach Sean Kugler said Lewis is a good-sized defensive back and is very productive and multi-positional.

"He played quarterback, running back, and defensive back, and was also a four-year basketball player," Kugler said. "He came on a visit early on in the season and committed to us."

Michael's coach Jarrod Smith came during Michael's freshman year and has had the chance to watch him grow as a player over the years.

"I'm very proud of Michael," Smith said. "From the day I arrived, I knew he was capable of great things. This is a great opportunity to prosper and continue his education."

Michael was a four-year letter winner for the Tigers, and part of three consecutive playoff appearances. The Tigers also earned a district championship in 2014.

During the 2014 season, Michael had 39 receptions for 513 years and 4 touchdowns receiving, and 73 carries for 471 yards and 9 touchdowns rushing. Defensively, Michael had 53 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, and 1 interception.

Michael's family attended the press conference as well, showing their support.

Michael's mother Gayla Lewis said she's watched her son grow as a player from when he was very young.

"I knew he was able to prosper when he began in pee-wee football," Lewis said. "It was just giving him the encouragement he needed."

Lewis comes from a long line of college football players. His father Michael Lewis Sr played for Blinn College, and Michael's brother Demontrai is currently playing for Kilgore College.

Linebacker Manuel Soria signed his letter of commitment on Thursday, February 5 to attend and play linebacker for McMurry University, a private university in Abilene.

Manuel will receive an academic scholarship, athletic scholarship and Dean's Merit scholarship. He plans to major in physics with a minor in kinesiology.

ManuelSoriaSigning15Senior Manuel Soria signed his letter of commitment to play college football for McMurry University in Abilene on Thursday, February 5 at Trinity High School. Soria is a three-year letter winner for the Tigers, and has played offensive line, receiver, outside linebacker, and inside linebacker. Soria will play linebacker for the War Hawks in the fall and plans to major in physics and minor in kinesiology. (Source: Coach Jarrod Smith)

"Manuel is an outstanding young man," Smith said. "When I first got here, he was a freshman, and he's really blossomed and grown up as a player."

Smith said Manuel has been a tremendous leader for the Tigers as well.

"We've had him play a lot of different positions, and he's done everything we've asked him to do and more," Smith said. 

Manuel is a three-year letter winner for the Tigers. As a senior linebacker in 2014, he compiled 63 tackles, 3 sacks, and 5 tackles for a loss.

During his years as a Tiger, Manuel has player offensive line, receiver, outside linebacker and inside linebacker.

Manuel's mother Kim Soria currently serves as TISD PTA president and said she and her family are ecstatic for Manuel.

"This has been his dream since pee-wee football," Soria said. "He and Michael Lewis were in pee-wee together and when they were five years old and running out of that tunnel, they said one day we're going to play college football."

The day Manuel signed his letter happened to be Soria's birthday, and she said this was the best birthday present she could have gotten.

"It's every parent's dream to get to watch their kid's dream come true," Soria said.

Manuel has been on the phone with the coaches of McMurry University and will be leaving for Abilene soon after graduation in June.

"I couldn't be prouder of him," Soria said. "We're still without words."

Trinity Tigers players chosen for All-District

Twenty-two Trinity Tigers players were chosen for the District 12 3A Football All-District team.
The head coaches from the schools in District 12 nominated their best players from the season and then voted to determine the 1st and 2nd teams and the honorable mentions.

Nominations take into consideration a number of factors, including but not limited to: how well the player performed in district play, the minutes played during the season, statistics, work ethic, attitude, how opposing coaches view the player, and the opinion of their nominating coach.

The selections from Trinity High School are as follows:

First Team - Offense
WR- Michael Lewis
WR- Koby Finley
QB- George Vaught
RB- Karsten Mack
OL- Josh Boyd
OL- Terelle Johnson

First Team - Defense
DB- Michael Lewis
LB- Tyreke Carroll
DL- Roderick English
DB- Koby Finley
DL- Keven Fransaw
DB- Javonte Oliphant

Second Team - Offense
WR- Devondrae Ware
OL- Caleb Jacome
WR- Ethan Snapp
OL- Glenn Bonner
OL- Tarrance Curtis
K- Jose Hernandez

Second Team - Defense
LB- Manuel Soria
LB- Charles McMillen
DL- Wayne Manis
DB- Demontrey House
DB- Xavier McCray
P- Koby Finley

Honorable Mention
LB- Demetric Mills
LB- Nick Bledsoe

The Trinity Tigers finished their 2014 season with 7 wins and 4 losses, and 5-1 in district play.
The Trinity Tigers seniors were recognized at the Trinity ISD school board meeting on December 15 by their coach Jarrod Smith.

Tigers suffer 34-27 playoff upset against Crockett

DeVondre Ware #8 after receiving a short pass, moves in behind Koby Finley #7 who runs blockage against Bulldog Chamar Wiley-Harris #3. (Photo by Wade Tidwell)DeVondre Ware #8 after receiving a short pass, moves in behind Koby Finley #7 who runs blockage against Bulldog Chamar Wiley-Harris #3. (Photo by Wade Tidwell)

The Trinity Tigers' season came to a close after a tough 34-27 loss against the rival Crockett Bulldogs during the bi-district playoff round Friday at Palestine's Wildcat Stadium.

Despite the Tigers winning the turnover battle and entering the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, the Bulldogs rallied to score three unanswered touchdowns and played shut-down defense late in the game. It would come down to a risky fourth-down call by Trinity that ultimately gave Crockett good field position to make the game-winning score.

Both offenses were efficient in different ways. The Tigers primarily ran the ball and totaled 348 offensive yards, while Crockett relied on a heavy passing game to earn 345 total yards on offense.

The Tigers offense wasted no time looking to control the game early on their opening drive. Karsten Mack ran on six carries, which later set up a 13-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback, George Vaught, to junior wide receiver, Koby Finley.

Crockett gave up an interception on their opening drive, but managed to regain possession starting from Trinity's 41-yard line. Sophomore wide receiver, Lucky Daniels, made a 35-yard catch that set up a two-yard touchdown run by senior running back, Jamarcus Moten.

Defenses on both sides played well in the second quarter and kept the score tied at the half. Crockett's offense nearly scored after reaching the Tigers one-yard line, but fumbled and lost the ball on a bad snap.

It proved to be a high-energy third quarter as Trinity worked to gain momentum, starting the second half with a 26-yard onside kick by junior kicker, Jose Hernandez, recovered by junior wide receiver, Javonte Oliphant. This set up a reverse run by senior wide receiver, Michael Lewis, for a 22-yard touchdown.

The Bulldogs answered immediately and tied the game with a 31-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback, Case Robinson, to junior wide receiver, AJ Phillips.

Robinson and Phillips led the game in passing and receiving yards.

Trinity gained some confidence late in the third quarter by scoring 13 unanswered points. After an interception return by Javonte Oliphant, the Tigers started with good field position and regained the lead with a two-yard rushing touchdown by junior running back, Karsten Mack. Later, a leaping 25-yard catch by Koby Finley set up another short touchdown run by Mack.

Mack was the game's leading rusher with 39 carries for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
The momentum would start to shift as Crockett's offense started to make big plays going into the fourth quarter. Robinson threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver, Lucky Daniels to cut the lead to six points.

On the following drive, Jose Hernandez tried to extend Trinity's lead with a short field goal, but was blocked by the Bulldogs defense. As the Tigers continued to struggle on offense, their defense had no answer to stop Crockett from completing big pass plays when it counted.

This time, it was Crockett's AJ Phillips that scored on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to once again tie the game. The Tigers defense managed to block the extra point kick, which kept the score at 27 points each.

With all the Bulldog's success, Trinity found themselves in a difficult position on fourth-down trying to regain control and decided to risk a turnover with a fake punt pass by Koby Finley to Michael Lewis. The pass was nearly completed, but broken up at the last moment by the Bulldogs defender. This put Crockett in great position to take the lead, starting from Trinity's 31-yard line.

The game-winning score came from the Bulldogs' AJ Phillips on a three-yard touchdown run. Trinity's offense would have one more opportunity to save their season, but went three-and-out trying to pass the ball under heavy pressure from Crockett's defense.

The Tigers ended their regular season at 7-3, marking the team's best effort in almost 20 years. Although disappointed by the playoff loss, Trinity remained ranked number 26 in Texas 3A-2 to finish their short postseason.

Tigers ready for playoffs after 41-22 win over Eagles

Junior Koby Finley #7 gets a Horse-collar tackle by an Eagle defender.  This action results in a Personal Foul penalty and automatic 1st down, bringing the Trinity Tigers deeper into the Eagles’ territory.  (Photo by Wade Tidwell)Junior Koby Finley #7 gets a Horse-collar tackle by an Eagle defender. This action results in a Personal Foul penalty and automatic 1st down, bringing the Trinity Tigers deeper into the Eagles’ territory. (Photo by Wade Tidwell)

By Albert Trevino

TRINITY- The playoff-bound Tigers took control in the second half Friday to win 41-22 against the Lexington Eagles and finished their regular season with a 5-1 district record.
The Tigers defense did not allow any offensive points in the second half and junior quarterback, George Vaught, led Trinity's offense with 281 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Lexington had early momentum with an early 13-0 lead in the first quarter after a slow start by Trinity's offense. Trinity's opening drive ended with a punt from deep in their own territory and gave the Eagles good field position to set up a 13-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore quarterback, Nic Dillon.

On the second Tigers drive, Vaught fumbled the ball on a sack and gave Lexington's offense an opportunity to extend the lead. The Eagles drive ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback, Walker Hess, to senior wide receiver, Andrew Lane. The extra point kick was blocked.

Trinity's offense reached inside Lexington one-yard line on the following drive, but failed to run the ball into the endzone pass a tough Eagles defensive line. The drive resulted in a turnover on downs.

"Lexington came out with a lot of intensity," said Tigers head coach Jarrod Smith. "At first, we didn't match that."

Late in the first quarter, the Eagles' momentum would start to shift as they started the next drive from their own five-yard line. On a third-down pass, Tigers junior strong safety (and WR), Koby Finley, stripped the ball from sophomore wide receiver, Justin Barron. The ball was quickly recovered by Tigers outside linebacker, Tyreke Carroll, and ran for Trinity's first touchdown.

Lexington's offense suffered a second fumble to start the second quarter and turned the ball over at Trinity's 26-yard line. The Tigers capitalized by moving down the field and finishing with a 16-yard touchdown run by senior wide receiver, Michael Lewis. The extra point kick tied the game at 13 points.

Two drives later, the Eagles defense made a play to take back the lead by causing a fumble on a failed hand-off to Michael Lewis. The ball was recovered by Eagles junior free safety, Berto Lara, who ran for a 26-yard touchdown.

Tigers junior running back, Karsten Mack, helped the offense bounce back and tied the game before halftime with an 80-yard touchdown pass from George Vaught.

To start the second half, Trinity would call on their defense to put pressure early and allow the Tigers offense to keep pace for the rest of the game.

On Lexington's first drive of the third quarter, Tigers sophomore cornerback, Javonte Oliphant, intercepted a pass from Eagles freshman quarterback, Walker Hess. This immediately set up a 37-yard touchdown run by Karsten Mack.

The Eagles found luck on Trinity's next offensive drive by earning two-points on a safety after an intentional grounding penalty by George Vaught in the back endzone. Despite starting with good field position, Lexington's offense failed to convert a first-down on their following drive and was forced to punt.

In the fourth quarter, the Eagles offense continued to struggle and allowed Trinity to extend their lead.

From Trinity's two-yard line, Vaught threw a 98-yard touchdown pass to Koby Finley. On the following drive, the Eagles punt team fumbled the ball on a bad snap at their own three-yard line. This set up a short pitch pass from Vaught to Mack for a touchdown to make the final score 41-22.

The Tigers finish the regular season with an overall record of 7-3 and are set for their third consecutive playoff appearance, where they will face the Crockett Bulldogs in the first round Friday at Palestine High School's Wildcat Stadium.

Senior Michael Lewis, who has been a Tiger varsity player since his freshman year, said the team's growing success is a result of hard work and patience over the past few seasons learning Coach Smith's no-huddle offensive scheme.

"We switched coaches, then everything just started getting better with the spread." said Lewis.

The playoff game against Crockett will be a battle of familiar opponents. The Tigers have won the last two games against the Bulldogs from 2012-2013. Smith and Lewis both expect the team to be play aggressively in order to earn their first playoff win.

"It's gonna be live. We'll be there, and we'll be ready." said Lewis.

Tigers beat New Waverly 14-6

Koby Finley, #7, gets tripped down near the goal line after recieving a pass from George Vaught.  A couple plays later gives the Tigers a 14-0 lead over the Bulldogs. (Photo by Wade Tidwell)Koby Finley, #7, gets tripped down near the goal line after recieving a pass from George Vaught. A couple plays later gives the Tigers a 14-0 lead over the Bulldogs. (Photo by Wade Tidwell)

TRINITY - The Trinity Tigers clinched a district playoff spot Friday in their 14-6 win against the New Waverly Bulldogs at Tiger Stadium.

It was a defensive showcase for both teams, but it was Trinity's defense that made the difference in the fourth quarter with a crucial stop deep in their own redzone to maintain an eight-point final lead.
The Tigers offense also managed to make big plays when they needed to, scoring two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter and averaging 8.1 yards for play. Trinity's offense totaled 403 yards, while New Waverly finished with 195 total offensive yards.

In the first quarter, both offenses struggled and were forced to punt on their opening drives. Trinity threatened to score on their second drive, with junior wide receiver Koby Finley catching a 41-yard pass from junior quarterback, George Vaught, and taking it to New Waverly's three-yard line. However, Bulldogs senior defensive back, Cameron Fisher, intercepted Vaught's pass near the endzone two plays later. At the end of the quarter, New Waverly's offense made it to Trinity's nine-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

Although both teams found opportunities during the second quarter, the Tigers were more aggressive in establishing a momentum and scored 14 unanswered points in less than one minute of game time.
"[New Waverly] had a really good game plan against us," said Tigers head coach, Jarrod Smith, "so we made some good adjustments."

The first Tigers touchdown was a 54-yard run by senior running back, Michael Lewis. On the following kickoff, Tigers sophomore inside linebacker, James Kinard, recovered a 13-yard onside kick by junior kicker, Jose Hernandez. Trinity's offense capitalized on the recovery with a 46-yard pass from Vaught to Finley, which set up a one-yard rushing touchdown by junior running back, Karsten Mack.
Finley and Mack were the game's offensive leaders in receiving and rushing.

Late in the half, New Waverly found some luck after their defense tipped a Trinity punt by Finley. This put the Bulldog offense at Trinity's 27 yard line and they immediately scored a touchdown pass from senior quarterback, Troy Roberts, to senior wide receiver, Chaz Jackson.

During the third quarter, both defenses caused turnovers and prevented their opposition from reaching the redzone. Tigers senior cornerback, Demontrey House, intercepted a pass by Roberts (Bulldogs QB). On the following drive, the Bulldogs recovered a forced fumble by Karsten Mack.
"Hats off to both defenses. We played very well in the second half," Smith said.

The game's crucial moment would arrive later in the fourth quarter with Trinity's offense pinned inside their own five-yard line. On third down, Vaught threw his second interception to Bulldogs senior outside linebacker, Broch Saxton. This gave New Waverly a late chance to tie the game starting from Trinity's two-yard line.

On second down from the one-yard line, Bulldogs junior fullback, Cedric Cunningham, had the ball knocked away at the line-of-scrimmage and the Tigers defense recovered. Starting again from their own three-yard line, Trinity's offense called on Karsten Mack for a 58-yard run which put them in good position to run out the game clock from inside Bulldog territory.

After the game, Coach Smith praised his team's ability to regroup and finish the game during the tough final minutes.

"Even though we gave up that [interception], our defense was ready to go to battle [..] and Vaught did a great job running the offense to end the game," said Smith.

Trinity's win guarantees them a district playoff spot later this month. They will play their final regular season game next week when they travel to Lexington to face the Eagles.

Tigers defeated by Lions 70-0

Koby Finley, #7, braces for impact as Jared Burnett, #15, takes him down. (Photo by Wade Tidwell)Koby Finley, #7, braces for impact as Jared Burnett, #15, takes him down. (Photo by Wade Tidwell)

FRANKLIN - The Trinity Tigers were shut out 70-0 by the Franklin Lions and suffered their first district loss Friday at Lion Stadium.

The Lions offense was aggressive throughout the game, while the Tigers struggled to put any points on the board. This was Trinity's first scoreless game of the regular season.

Franklin's tight-formation offense was unstoppable in the first half and earned a comfortable 49-0 lead by halftime. They further extended that lead in the second half by scoring three additional touchdowns.

Although Trinity's offense ran into the redzone on two occasions, they had no luck in reaching the goal line. Franklin's defense managed to prevent the Tigers rushing attack from being a factor, which also put pressure on junior quarterback, George Vaught, to make big pass plays.
Tigers head coach, Jarrod Smith, said his team was aware of the challenge facing them and had much respect for Franklin's powerful offense.

"I don't think there's anyone in the state other than Franklin and Corrigan who run that type of offense that well. They've been running it for 20 years. Hats off to them." said Smith.
According to Smith, Trinity's offense had some opportunities to shift the momentum. However, the defensive line for Franklin made third and fourth down conversions very difficult.
"We just could never capture momentum [..] Whatever we had, they had an answer for it." Smith said.

The Tigers go into their bye week with a 3-1 district record. They will extra time to rest and prepare before they host the New Waverly Bulldogs next week at Tiger Stadium.
Scoring Summary

1st Quarter
Franklin - #35 five-yard run for TD, 10:21. Extra point by #4 good. (6-0)
Franklin - #35 nine-yard run for TD, 7:07. Extra point by #4 good. (14-0)
Franklin - #40 three-yard run for TD, 6:16. Extra point kick blocked. (20-0)
Franklin – Pass by #16 to #3 for 24-yard TD, 0:43. 2-point conversion run by #40 good. (26-0)

2nd Quarter
Franklin - #40 one-yard run for TD, 8:18. Extra point kick blocked. (34-0)
Franklin - #40 13-yard run for TD, 7:08. 2-point conversion run by #40 good. (42-0)
Franklin - #40 one-yard run for TD, 1:34. Extra point by #4 good. (49-0)

3rd Quarter
Franklin - #3 53-yard run for TD, 11:42. Extra point by #4 good. (56-0)
Franklin - #35 33-yard for TD, 6:19. Extra point by #4 good. (63-0)

4th Quarter
Franklin - #6 four-yard run for TD, 11:48. Extra point by #4 good. (70-0)