Trinity is ready to forget about winless season
After the football season ended with a 0-9 record, Dickinson Trinity head coach John Odermann couldn’t wait for this season to be begin.
The reason for his excitement — everyone is returning.
Trinity comes as close it gets to returning every starter on an 11-man football team. The Titans just lost two players to graduation.
“I was really excited,” said Odermann, who is in his second year as head coach. “When you have 36 to 38 kids coming back, it’s one of those things where you didn’t really know what to expect. We’ve been pleasantly surprised from how our kids responded. It has been a good couple weeks getting back into the swing of things.”
During the 2013 season, Trinity averaged 17.1 points and allowed 39.9 points.
Though the Titans were outscored by an average of 22.8 points per game with a roster full of inexperience, Odermann knew it was going to be a tough season.
“Every coach says it, that the team is bigger, faster, stronger,” Odermann said. “It’s the truth here. We’ve got kids that were boys last year and we put boys up against young men. This year they are young men playing against other young men.”
Trinity has 12 seniors. On the offensive and defensive line, Trinity has senior Jacob Brooke, juniors Zach Kubas, Lucas Kubik and Dillon Praus. The running backs are seniors Cole Beck, Coltyn Nelson and Mark Veverka, while junior Colton Steiner is also returning. At different points in the season, Beck, Nelson, Veverka and Steiner were the featured running back.
The offensive linemen will protect returning starting quarterback Willy Jahner. Odermann said the junior grew into his body during the offseason.
“As a sophomore, Willy did a lot of nice things for us,” Odermann said. “He’s one of those guys that was one of those green rookies last year, that looked like a boy out there, and now he’s turned into a young man. He’s always had a good head on his shoulders, but his physical body has caught up with his mind. He can make some plays for us with his arm and also with his feet. I’m excited to see him develop as a quarterback and a leader for the team on and off the field.”
Trinity also returns a host of wide receivers with seniors Joe Mayer, Jace Kruger, Connor Friske and Easton Brost. Mayer was a second team all-state selection as a junior.
Kruger, who also plays defensive back along with Mayer, Friske and Brost, said there’s plenty of chemistry throughout the entire team. A majority of the team plays multiple sports together, whether it’s basketball, wrestling, golf or track and field.
“All my friends are on the team,” Kruger said. “Everyone that I run track with is on the team. There are a lot of good bonds here.”
From Trinity’s co-op agreement with New England, it returns senior tight end and linebacker Ty Nordby.
“He really started the season slow last year, but he came on midseason and he was our best defensive player,” Odermann said. “He’s going to be a weapon for us at tight end too.”
However, Nordby wasn’t the only gift the Titans received from down the road. Trinity also has 6-foot-7, 260-pound sophomore lineman Cody Holt. Nordby said it is great to have Holt, who transferred from Texas to New England during the summer, on the football field.
“It’s definitely fun to play football with him,” Nordby said with a smile. “It’s good to know he’s there just making plays.”
One player Odermann has been really impressed with during the first couple weeks of the season is Jaret Lee. The junior wide receiver and defensive back placed third at 120 pounds as a sophomore during the 2013 Class A state wrestling tournament.
Odermann said Lee probably should have received more playing time last season, but the junior is making a case for significant playing time this season.
“(Lee) has come on like gangbusters this fall,” Odermann said. “He has been just an absolute shutdown corner. He’s going to be a kid that comes up and makes some big hits. We have four (defensive) backs that love to hit people. They aren’t going to sit back and become shrinking violets.”
Not only did many of the players return for the Titans, but the coaching staff — for the most part — has stayed constant. Odermann also managed to coax Craig Kovash — Trinity’s offensive and defensive line coach for many years — out of semi-retirement.
“(Kovash) was my offensive and defensive line coach in high school,” Odermann said. “He’s one of the best in the state.”
The Titans competed against Dickinson High and Killdeer during a scrimmage on Friday and Kruger said he can already see the positives. He said the team feels more comfortable on the field.
“We have just about everyone returning, so we are just rolling off of last year,” Kruger said. “We have more experience now, because we have a full year under our belt. Now we can just play off of that.”
Trinity opens the regular season hosting Killdeer in a nonconference game at 8 p.m. Friday at the Biesiot Activities Center. The Cowboys defeated the Titans 43-21 last year as Trinity fumbled six times in the first half.
“There are nine games on the schedule, but the thing I’ve said all offseason is, ‘Guys, the only game we need to care about right now is that first one,’” Odermann said. “That’s the game that will set the table for us for the rest of the year.”
Dickinson Trinity Titans
Head coach: John Odermann (2nd season).
Assistants: Jacob Odermann, Craig Kovash, Dylan Fridrich, Mark Friske, Michael Mann.
Last season: 0-9, missed the playoffs
Returning starters: Joe Mayer, Sr., WR/DB; Jace Kruger, Sr., WR/DB; Easton Brost, Sr., QB/WR/DB; Cole Beck, Sr., RB/DB; Connor Friske, Sr., WR/DB; Coltyn Nelson, Sr., FB/LB; Ty Nordby, Sr., TE/LB; Mark Veverka, Sr., FB/LB; Willy Jahner, Jr., QB/DB; Zach Kubas, Jr., OL/DL; Jacob Brooke, Sr., OL/LB; Lucas Kubik, Jr., OL/LB; Brett Mortenson, Sr., OL/DL; Dillon Praus, Jr., OL/DL; Colton Steiner, Jr., RB/LB.
Returners: Jaret Lee, Jr., WR/DB; Kendall; Jones, So., QB/DB; Lucas Jones, So., RB/DB; Justin Meyer, Jr., TE/LB.
Newcomers: Cody Holt, So., 6-7, 260, OL/DL.
Losses: Cody Woehl, OL/DL; Brady Sykora, OL/DL.