In each of the previous three seasons, the Denison Yellow Jackets and Trinity Christian-Addison Trojans have played exciting non-district contests.
The most recent was the wildest of the trilogy and will be tough to top since the protagonists on both sides have graduated. Still, it will be an interesting test for the Jackets as they open the season — in a pair of scrimmages the first-team defense did not allow a touchdown.
But the Trojans are not the high-flying attack they were in 2016, when they edged Denison 63-61 and averaged 45.2 points per contest. It did lead to a return to the playoffs as TCA went 6-5 and was a bounceback from 2015 — the first time in 25 years the program missed the TAPPS playoffs. There has been plenty of postseason success as the Trojans have state titles in 2000, 1996, 1993 (a share of the crown), 1992 and 1991 and was the runner-up in 2009, 2006, 2005, 1994, 1987 and 1979.
Denison was on the verge of pulling out the victory when a fumble with 1:06 left at the Trojan 18-yard line ended that thought. Tre’ Lyday led the Jackets with 40 carries for 318 yards and six touchdowns. Trinity Christian quarterback Court Walker was 33-of-53 for 393 yards and seven touchdowns, as well as four interceptions, and added 93 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.
Both of those players graduated. Walker also was TCA’s leading rusher and the top three receivers for the Trojans were also seniors.
The two quarterbacks who saw action for Trinity Christian last season, Walker and Blake Hinton, graduated. So that is an area of great interest.
The top returning rusher is junior William Kennedy, who had 310 yards and four touchdowns on 67 carries to go with 21 catches for 181 yards. Senior Cody Henson is the only other Trojan with significant attempts — 28 for 139 yards.
There are a couple of pass-catching options with experience. In addition to Kennedy, senior Daniel Deweese had 19 receptions for 309 yards and a TD while Taylor Davis had 18 catches for 198 yards.
The offensive line needs to replace a second-team and honorable mention all-district selections due to graduation.
On the defensive side there is a lot of returning experience. Junior linebacker Michael Callahan was second on the team in tackles with 94 and was first-team all-district while senior Caleb Getz was right behind at 93. Junior linebacker Slade Savage was fourth with 85 tackles and classmate Riley Crow rounds out the top five with 80 stops a year ago.
Junior Justin Moore led the team with seven sacks while senior Ethan Woodward had a team-best three interceptions and classmate Sam Clare led the Trojans with 16 passes defended.
Adding to the list of newcomers will be at kicker since Cole Yeatts graduated after making 8-of-11 field goals with a long of 46 yards. He was also the punter.