Written by Brandon George
George: Underdog South Grand Prairie faces top-ranked Euless Trinity with no fear
GRAND PRAIRIE - The last half of South Grand Prairie's football practice Wednesday afternoon was filled with high-spirited drills, laughing and joking. Players were full of energy.
This looked nothing like a team everybody expects to be knocked on its back by No. 1 Euless Trinity tonight in a Class 5A Division I first-round playoff game at the Birdville ISD Fine Arts/Athletic Complex.
And - get this - SGP coach Rob Davies said the Warriors are "looking forward" to playing 10-0 Trinity, ranked No. 1 in several national polls.
"It's going to be a challenge, but our guys are excited about the opportunity," Davies said. "We're not intimidated. We're not scared."
There's good reason for the Warriors' optimism. SGP knows all about tough playoff draws. The last time SGP qualified for the postseason, in 2008, the Warriors' first-round game was against Allen. SGP didn't commit a turnover and was outgained by 9 yards, but fell, 27-14. Allen went on to win a state championship.
SGP is also the last team to defeat Trinity in a district game on the Trojans' home field. On Oct. 28, 2005, SGP knocked off Trinity, 35-28, at Pennington Field in Bedford.
"We were in a district with Trinity for four years. We've had some good games against them and then we've had our tails whipped by them. This is one of the better teams they've had," Davies said.
"I'm really, really proud of our coaches and players. A lot of teams would say, 'Oh, yeah, we're 6-4 and we made the playoffs. Oh dang, we're going to play Trinity. Let's check it in.' But we're excited and having fun. We're not nervous and we're not going to back down."
Despite talented SGP junior quarterback Jared Johnson and the Warriors' physical front seven on defense, this game, on paper, looks like King Kong vs. the Geico Gecko. Like almost all Trinity games, it's a mismatch.
Trinity leads 5A area teams in scoring at 51.3 points per game and in scoring defense, allowing 9.3 per game. Trinity's average margin of victory this season is 42 points and the closest any team has come to the Trojans was a 23-point loss by Hurst L.D. Bell.
And, remember, in the first playoff game last season as the defending state champion, Trinity put up 88 points on Flower Mound, sending Cowboys Stadium's JerryTron into a dizzying frenzy.
Trinity has a way of burying teams early, leaving the second half of games as a glorified practice for its third- and fourth-stringers. Trinity has outscored its opponents, 320-54, in the first half this season. The closest any team has been to Trinity at halftime is 11 points.
Johnson said the Warriors won't be fazed because they're taking the approach of not playing Trinity's reputation, and just playing Trinity.
"I feel like that's a reason they put away teams so early. Teams might lose the game before it even starts because of their reputation," Johnson said. "That's one thing I've told myself and my teammates is to play the game and don't lose the game before we start. You have no chance if you don't believe you [can] win, and we really believe we can win this game."
Davies closed practice Wednesday by telling his players not to plan anything for next Saturday. He told SGP's players to plan on playing the winner of the Allen-Justin Northwest game Nov. 20 at Cowboys Stadium. It was Davies' way of getting the Warriors to believe they can defeat Trinity.
"Hey, we sweat just like they do," SGP senior defensive lineman Avery Jones said. "Everybody looks at them like they're some kind of Greek gods or something. They're not unhuman. They can be beat.
"Everybody comes out there and sees that all-black uniform and that long hair in the back with the tattoos and they're big, and teams get intimidated and get scared. You can't do that. You have to have the mentality that we're coming to play. I love being the underdog and I love that we're playing Trinity. It's a big opportunity to shock the world."