Friday Night Faceoff: Welcome to Trinity football, how tough are ya?
Are you ready for this week's Friday Night Faceoff?
Each week, WFAA.com brings you live coverage of a top high school football matchup in the DFW area. Follow along with high schools contributor Reece Kelley Graham (@ReeceKelleyG) as he provides updates on the teams throughout the week, plus live coverage on social media and the postgame recap.
There's lots of games on Friday, but join us at @wfaasports on Twitter for updates on the biggest games throughout the Metroplex!
Week 6's matchup: Southlake Carroll at Euless Trinity
Who: Southlake Carroll Dragons (3-1, 1-0 District 5-6A) at Euless Trinity Trojans (2-2, 1-0 District 5-6A)
Where: Bedford's Pennington Field – 7:30 p.m.
Listen: KWRD-FM 100.7
It's interesting that two teams who have played off and on for only about the last 11 years could have a rivalry so... highly anticipated. But the football programs at Southlake Carroll and Euless Trinity have grown up together.
Some rivalries are born out of hatred. Some are born out of jealousy. Some are born out of class and lines on a map. This rivalry was born out of respect.
The Dragons and the Trojans, whose stadiums are separated by only a few miles of Texas 121, have made each other better. It all started back in 2006, when both teams met in the second round of the playoffs in front of what is believed to be one of the largest crowds for high school football in state history. Southlake Carroll won the game in the final seconds and would go on to win the state title. The Dragons would do so again in 2011. Heartbroken Trinity would capture the ultimate prize twice in that span, winning state in 2007 and 2009.
Since that game in 2006, both programs have won over 100 games. That game under the lights of Texas stadium marked the beginning of a football renaissance for both schools.
They've met every year since 2012 in District 5-6A play. All but one of those games was decided by 10 points or more.
So, no. This game isn't just another red circle on the calendar. It's a romantic, nostalgic celebration of two teams, two programs, two schools who wouldn't be where they are today without each other. Carroll and Trinity are more than just a footnote in each other histories – they're more like co-authors.
During this week's Friday Night Faceoff, we get to watch them write another chapter.
Here's what you need to know about the Euless Trinity Trojans
I once took a modern dance class.
It was for my arts curriculum in high school.
I wasn't very good at modern dance. I could never remember to point my toes, I wasn't very graceful and shin splints caused numerous accidents. Frankly, I think most people would feel less confident in their dancing abilities if they were forced to watch themselves dance in a giant mirror twice a week like I was. You know, unless you're like Misty Copeland or something.
But that class was an excuse to learn one of the coolest things ever.
You see, my teacher was of New Zealand heritage...
Until I took modern dance, I knew nothing about the country. I always thought New Zealand was kind of like "Australia Lite" -- same great taste, fewer calories. That kind of thing.
Turns out they're nothing alike. I'll spare you the history lesson and get to the good part.
One day, my teacher said, "You all need to become more in tune with the power of your physical being" or something or other.
And that's the day we devoted an entire class period to learning the Haka.
What is the Haka?
It's the traditional war cry of the Māori people of New Zealand. It has multiple variations and can be used as a greeting, a challenge, or to let the village on the other side of the mountain that you're really PO'd.
It's basically the greatest excuse ever to stomp your feet, thump your chest, hiss, scream, and stick out your tongue in the ugliest fashion imaginable. It was made world famous by the All Blacks, the greatest rugby team of all-time.
So, when I heard that Euless Trinity's football team has made the Haka a part of their pregame tradition, the Trojans automatically won the award for "most awesome utilization of a native tradition from a foreign land in DFW." Yes, that is an actual award. And yes, I am the only voter.
Trinity also does a war dance called the Sipi Tau, which is based in Tongan heritage.
And the Haka is perfectly fitting for a team like the Trojans, who prides itself on bruising opponents to the point where their grandchildren and great grandchildren are still feeling the hits decades later.
That's an exaggeration, but Trinity is a highly physical football that knows how to lay the hammer. A trip to Pennington Field is like a trip to the Salty Spitoon – you better ask yourself if you're tough enough before stepping inside.
Known for its running game, Trinity's ground attack continues to be one of the most potent in the area. The Trojans feature a three-headed monster at running back with Katerian Lewis, Courage Keihn and Ja'Lon Wilson.
Keihn, the senior who led the Trojans with 1557 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns last year, sprained his ankle earlier this season and has missed Trinity's last two games. He's only carried the ball 22 times for 78 yards and a score, but could potentially return for this week's game. He's the single greatest offensive weapon in the district. His presence would mean a lot.
Lewis currently leads the team with 223 yards and three scores on 27 carries. He chews up over eight yards per handoff and is highly athletic. Wilson has also rushed for over 200 yards through four games.
But the ground attack doesn't end there, with junior Brandon Theus and senior Toby Harrah waiting in the wings. Both have rushed for over 100 yards so far and Theus leads the Trojans in yards per carry (11.3).
Yes, the Trojans have four backs that have already rushed for over 100 yards. Keihn would be the fifth.
Trinity's offensive line deserves credit for that. Leka Lea'aetoa and Jason Vakasiuola are getting the push needed to get things going on the ground.
Trinity's passing attack isn't as daunting, but chalk that up to lack of volume. Quarterback Laki Ellis has attempted only 56 passes on the season. He's completed less than half of them, but averages 13.5 per completion. Leading receiver Keanu Hill has caught 11 passes for 160 yards and two scores. All Trinity receivers that have hauled in more than one pass are averaging greater than 12 yards per catch.
The Trojans' scoring numbers so far haven't been eye-popping, but when you're giving up an average of only 19 points per game, scoring in bunches can be taken off the front burner.
Trinity's defense is underrated and has a lot of great pieces. Like defensive ends Travis Chatman and Izaih Filikitonga, the latter of which has multiple Power 5 offers. Both combine to create a solid pass rush.
These Trojans are good enough to make it past the first round of the playoffs, which Trinity has failed to do each of the last two seasons. By the time those black helmets storm out of the tunnel, most teams have already lost. The intimidation is real.
Fear the Haka.