Trinity coach seeks to develop program legacy
For Trinity, a road trip to the mecca of college football was the bonding experience of a lifetime.
The Hillers participated in a seven-on-seven passing camp this summer at Notre Dame. Getting to use the Fighting Irish's practice field, walking through the stadium and seeing the famous Touchdown Jesus image was experiencing the epitome of football lore.
Now, the Hillers are looking to create their own legacy.
Second-year coach Ryan Coyle and his team got bit closer with each camp, but the trip to South Bend, Ind. brought it all together.
“We were privileged and blessed to have that opportunity,” Coyle said. “We came back a little bit stronger, and everybody knew a little bit more about each other.
“As far as a team experience, I would say that's second to none. This is something the players will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Coyle, a protégé of former Penn Hills and Shaler coach Neil Gordon, is looking to continue the momentum built by a playoff run last season. The 5-5 record was fitting; The Hillers alternated wins and losses every week. More wins are on Coyle's to-do list, along with continuing to build a program set on a foundation of character and work ethic.
“In the second year, you really want to build upon the program and not sacrifice integrity or anything like that for the sake of a win here or there,” he said.
The character is there, Coyle said. However, the talent on the field has yet to prove itself. The Hillers lost their leading rusher, passer and receiver to graduation.
Junior Forrest Cullings will start at quarterback. His main target will be senior Brandon McGavitt. Despite last season's leading rusher Patrick Frey transferring to McGuffey, the Hillers are deep at running back and expect to spread carries to Colton Jordan, Rylee Yocca and Sam Trapuzzano. Fullback Robert West is back, but Coyle lamented the offensive line is still a work in progress.
Linebacker Gaage Marry returns to lead the defense. McGavitt, a ball-hawk free safety, will patrol the secondary.
Coyle said one of the benefits going into his second season is having an entire offseason to work with his players. The resulting camaraderie makes it easy to understand Trinity's mission.
“This group has pretty much one goal in mind, and that's to have each other's back,” Coyle said. “They're working together for one common goal.”