Cardinals seeking fifth straight conference title

Posted by : admin | On : August 3, 2017

The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–Coming off a fourth straight conference championship, Trinity Valley coach Brad Smiley knows a target is on the backs of his Cardinals.
Trinity Valley is the preseason favorite to win the Southwest Junior College Football Conference by the coaches and media members at Friday’s conference media day.
In the media poll, the Cardinals received nine of 12 first-place votes, plus three more votes no less than fourth place.
The media poll has Tyler in second, followed by Kilgore, Navarro, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Blinn, New Mexico Military and Cisco.
In the coaches’ poll, TVCC had six of the eight first-place votes.
The Cardinals were followed by Kilgore, Navarro, Tyler, NEO, Blinn, New Mexico Military and Cisco.
“There are no weak links in our league,” Smiley said. “The teams in this conference are extremely competitive and powerful.”
If the Cardinals are to win the conference title for a fifth straight season, it would be the first time in school and league history.
During the coach’s comments, the recurring theme among all teams was how young their teams would be when camp opens Aug. 5.
Even with 25 lettermen returning from last year’s 11-1 team, Smiley has only four offensive and five defensive starters returning.
“At this level, we have to reload every year — always a fun challenge,” Smiley said in the media guide.
If one position is strong for the Cardinals, Smiley said the linebacking core, which is coached by former Cardinal Cortney Finney is that position.
They are led by leading tackler Blake Stephenson, who recorded 107 tackles, nine sacks, two forced fumbles and three pass breakups last year.
Other players to watch are Brandon Floyd, Jaquay Pough, Mike Carrillo, Sean Milligan, Trey Baldwin and Jack Lechman.
“Easily the most experienced, deepest position on the team,” Smiley said. “We expect a lot out of this group.”
At quarterback, the battle heading into camp is between returner Shelton Eppler and UT-San Antonio transfer Jaylen Henderson.
“Though Shelton was not a starter, he played in all 12 games last year and was very productive,” Smiley said. “We also added an exciting transfer from UTSA and signed two very talented freshmen. We are excited to see this group compete.”
Smiley said Eppler looked good during spring drills.