The Holy Trinity Tigers won’t know just how good they really are until football season starts in the fall and they have their full roster.
But the group that took the field for Friday night’s spring game certainly provided a lot of hope.
The Tigers got strong performances from their top two quarterbacks and rising senior running back Jadon Gowins ripped off a 44-yard touchdown run as Holy Trinity defeated visiting Palm Beach Christian Prep 35-14.
“It’s promising,” Tigers coach Nate Hooks Jr. said. “To have a bunch of seventh and eighth graders starting, and a lot of eighth graders coming in that will start; we have about 12 coming … we’re going to be young, but we’re going to be competitive.
“The goal is winning the regional semifinals this year. We’ve been there three years in a row.”
Rising senior transfers Thomas Nargi and Ty Englehart, who are competing to be the starting quarterback for the Tigers next season, both accounted for a pair of touchdowns.
Nargi kept the ball twice on read-option plays and ran for touchdowns of 58 and 9 yards. Englehart scored on a keeper from a yard out and hit rising sophomore Dayday Farmer for a 44-yard score.
“I was hoping that this game could actually have one of them taking the lead,” Hooks said. “And they both looked good.”
Palm Beach Christian Prep, a new school that will be playing its inaugural season in the fall, brought in a roster full of young players. And while the Saints certainly have a chance to be good in the future, they were outmatched by the Tigers in this one.
Nargi got Holy Trinity on the board in the first quarter when he surprised the defense, which flowed toward the opposite side of the field, while he took the ball untouched down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown.
The Tigers would make it 14-0 when Nargi hit Farmer with a pass down the 9-yard line, then kept it again for the score.
“I think it was a good team effort,” Nargi said. “The whole night was kind of like a tune-up game and I like what I’m seeing so far. I’m expecting big things from all of us this season.”
Englehart took over for Holy Trinity at quarterback in the second quarter and was just as impressive.
The Tigers got a break when a receiver appeared to clearly drop a pass along the sideline, but the ball was placed at the Palm Beach Christian Prep 1-yard line.
From there, Englehart took it into the end zone and Holy Trinity was up 21-0. It became a four-touchdown game when Englehart bought a little time in the pocket and found Farmer, who outran the Saints defense for a 44-yard touchdown.
Gowins’ big run made it 35-0 at the half and meant the final two quarters would be played with a running clock.
Holy Trinity, which has struggled with roster numbers for years, was able to rest several starters and Palm Beach Christian Prep was able to score a pair of second half touchdowns.
Those scores didn’t take anything away from the night the Tigers had, particularly the younger players like rising eighth-grade cornerback Brogan McNab, who had a nice pass breakup in the first half and showed he wasn’t afraid to get involved in stopping the run.
Hooks said he was most happy with the way his young players competed and made plays.
“That’s all it is,” Hooks said. “It doesn’t matter what that age is. If you fly around, with effort, you’re going to make some big plays. Just fly around, full speed.”
Nargi, who transferred in from Cocoa Beach, said he’s been impressed by the way his teammates instantly accepted him.
“This team, ever since I got here, took me in. It’s a brotherhood,” he said. “We’re out here playing for each other. Everybody’s going hard, trying to do the best that they can. We’ve always got each other’s back.”
Holy Trinity, which has reached the Class 3A regional semifinals in each of the past three seasons, will be dropping to Class 2A in the fall.
“I’m excited,” Hooks said. “Age-wise, it’s going to be a JV team. But ability wise, we’re going to be pretty good.”