Trinity Catholic dismantles Holy Trinity Academy in regional semifinals

Celtics quarterback Preston Wright tosses 4 touchdown passes in rout of Tigers

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Posted November 17, 2023 | By Mark Pinson/Special to the Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

Trinity Catholic junior quarterback Preston Wright threw four touchdown passes in only one half of play, and the Celtics’ defense forced three turnovers in a 55-7 drubbing of Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Friday night’s Class 1S regional semifinals.

Trinity Catholic, which had a first-round bye last week as district champions, came out firing on all cylinders in improving to 4-7 on the season. The Celtics jumped out to a 42-0 lead at the half and never looked back as Wright picked apart the Holy Trinity defense with accurate throws to a bevy of talented receivers.

“I thought that was a great start,” said Trinity Catholic coach John Brantley. “I’m happy with the way the offense looked, the defense was outstanding, and I thought we played great in all three phases. The offensive line was solid, and Preston did a great job of throwing to six or seven different receivers and not just one guy which is good distribution of the ball. We still had too many stupid penalties and the only thing that takes us out of any game is turning the ball over and having a bunch of stupid penalties and we have to eliminate that. Now we get ready for round two.”

Round two for Trinity Catholic consists of a road game on Friday night at Melbourne Central Catholic in the regional finals.

“We just need to keep improving and stay healthy and get back to work on Monday,” coach Brantley said. “We have a ritual around here at Trinity Catholic, if we’re practicing on Thanksgiving morning, which we will, it means it’s a good year. Melbourne is a good football team, and we’ll get over there after having some turkey on Thursday and see how we match up against them.”

Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, which is located in Melbourne, finished the season with a record of 7-4.

Trinity Catholic, the No. 3 seed, took the opening kickoff and marched 74 yards in eight plays as senior running back Jamarkus Starkes gained 14 yards on four carries, before junior Austin Holder broke loose for a 39-yard scoring scamper. The extra point by senior kicker Cooper Badics gave the Celtics a 7-0 lead.

Holy Trinity Academy, the No. 2 seed, went nowhere against a swarming Trinity Catholic defense and was forced to punt.

Trinity Catholic took possession at its 34 and reached the end zone in just three plays as Wright completed passes of 15 yards to John Hayes, 45 yards to Starkes and a perfectly thrown slant pass to junior wide receiver Davon Jones for a 6-yard touchdown. The point after by Badics made it 14-0 midway through the first quarter.

Holy Trinity Academy was able to pick up a first down before having to punt once again.

This time it was the Trinity Catholic ground game that did the damage, as junior Gerald Lawton III ripped off a 65-yard touchdown run. The extra point gave the Celtics a 21-0 lead with 10:18 remaining in the second period.

Holy Trinity Academy’s next possession ended in disaster as a hard hit forced a fumble that Trinity Catholic’s Zach Johnson recovered on the Tigers’ 21-yard line.

The Celtics capitalized in one play as Wright found Hayes for a 21-yard scoring pass. The point after made it 28-0 midway through the second quarter.

Holy Trinity Academy went backward on its next possession before a short punt gave Trinity Catholic the ball on the Tigers’ 48.

Wright drove the Celtics down the field and hit senior running back Antwon Blanchard over the middle for a 9-yard touchdown pass.

Holy Trinity Academy quarterback Brogan Mcnab had a pass intercepted by Trinity Catholic junior Courtney Patterson to set up another Celtics score.

Wright found Patterson open in the middle of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 42-0 at the half. The talented Wright completed 12 of 16 passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns.

“It started up front with the offensive line because I had all day to throw the ball,” said Wright. “We came out and scored on our first drive and I was excited we started off strong. Everything flowed together just like a well-oiled machine.”

At halftime, the talented Badics, received the prestigious John Williams Kicking Award, which signifies the best kicker in District 7, which consists of 40 schools.

Because of the lopsided score, a running clock was used for the second half.

Holy Trinity Academy managed to score on its first possession of the third quarter as Mcnab connected with Jude Ormsby for an 11-yard touchdown pass to pull the Tigers within 42-7.

Trinity Catholic substituted liberally in the second half and sophomore quarterback Carter Schofield showcased his talents by throwing a pair of touchdown passes. The first was a 66-yard bomb down the left sideline to Hayes. The second scoring toss was an 11 yarder to sophomore tight end Caden Buchs for the final score.

“This is what we worked for all season, to get to the playoffs,” said coach Brantley. “We played well and took Holy Trinity’s best players out of the game. Our coaches did a great job of getting us ready for this game.”

Up next for the Celtics is an away game on Friday night against Melbourne Central Catholic, the No. 1 seed. The winner of the regional final advances to the state Final Four.

“Melbourne Central Catholic is big up front and is very physical,” coach Brantley said. “We’ve got some film on them we’ll watch and then get on the practice field and get to work.”

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