Tigers open 2018 season feeling they have something to prove


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Holy Trinity's Seth Coleman, who just committed to the University of Illinois, should give opponents a reason to fear Holy Trinity's defense this season.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

The expectations are high around the Holy Trinity football program, and it’s easy to see why.

With seven players who have college scholarship offers – including senior defensive end Seth Coleman, who recently committed to Illinois – the Tigers feel like they have the talent to make a deep playoff run and make last year’s 2-7 record a distant memory.

“The truth is, we were good last year,” Tigers coach Nate Hooks Jr. said. “It’s just that we started 13 ninth graders. We literally played a varsity schedule with a JV team. Now, those guys are bigger, stronger and faster.”

And they also feel like they’ve got something to show the rest of the county.

“I feel like we have a lot to prove,” junior running back/defensive end Larry Hill said. “Us still being kind of young … we have a lot of sophomores, some incoming freshmen … we have a lot to prove. People don’t think we’re going to do anything this season.

“We think we’re going to have a pretty great season.”

 Not only do the Tigers have more players out this season (26) than in any of Hooks’ five years as head coach, but they’re also expected to have more impact players.

Hill, for example, missed nearly all of last season with a broken finger. Now he’s back and ready to show why he has offers from South Carolina, Iowa State, Army, Bowling Green, Oregon State, Northern Colorado, Morgan State, Middle Tennessee and Tulane.

Fall practice couldn’t get here soon enough.

“It feels good, especially for me, having that injured season last year,” Hill said. “For it to end like that, I’m pretty hungry this year. I’m ready for the season to start.”

In addition to a healthy Hill, and Coleman (who didn’t play last year), the Tigers have also been impacted by the arrival of senior quarterback Dru Nickson.

A standout on the Holy Trinity basketball team, Nickson hasn’t played football since the eighth grade.

“I’ve been wanting to play, but my mom wouldn’t let me,” he said. “And then finally, she decided to let me play this year.”

After watching Nickson progress from spring practice through the summer and now into the fall, Hooks is expecting big things this season.

“He has the potential to be the best quarterback we’ve ever had,” the Tigers coach said. “He’s a 6-foot-3 stud quarterback that can run and throw – a dual threat. His leadership is unbelievable.”

Nickson, who said his footwork and ability to read defenses improved over the summer, believes those leadership qualities come from his time on the court.

“I think basketball definitely helps a lot,” he said. “That’s my first sport and I’ve always been a leader in that sport. It just carried over to football.”

Having another weapon to add to an already talented team that includes Coleman, Hill, Sullivan Altman, James BlackStrain, Lino Odenat, Preston Milo, Andre Hutchinas, Rico Frazier and Carlos Estronza should bode well for the Tigers, who will host Fort Pierce Central in their Kickoff Classic game on Aug. 17.

After that, the Tigers will hit the road for one of the biggest games in program history.

“The first regular season game is against Merritt Island,” Hooks said. “That’s a big test. You’re talking about a perennial powerhouse with tradition.”

And for a team with something to prove, that’s just the kind of test you want.