Josh Lamb remembers well the frustration of watching from the field as teammate after teammate succumbed to injury. The Mitchell High football team’s 6-1 start fizzled into a 6-4 finish and a state playoff berth evaporated.
For Christian Trinidad, the frustration was just as keen, even if his view came from the stands.
Now, the players are back and ready to complete what they’ve started the past two seasons.
“Last year, when we played the tougher teams on our schedule, we went in thinking we’d beat them like we beat everyone else,” Lamb, a senior cornerback, said. “Now we’re going in with the mindset that every game is going to be a dogfight. With the talent we have on this team, I think we can definitely get to the playoffs.”
To do so, the Mustangs must find a way to maintain consistency. A season ago, Mitchell led the 6A-District 6 standings until losing its final three games when injuries devastated the offensive and defensive units. In 2011, the Mustangs were 4-0 before stumbling in district play, missing the playoffs with a 6-4 record.
And the biggest offensive key could be Trinidad.
In a harbinger of Mitchell’s season, the running back broke a pair of tackles at the line of scrimmage before outracing defenders for an 86-yard touchdown on the season’s first play. Displaying deceptive power for a 5-foot-10, 165-pound back, Trinidad rushed for 137 yards that night and had 785 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 132 rushes before being lost for the season due to lingering concussion issues.
The senior back is ready to make amends.
“Health is a big concern this year,” Trinidad said. “I’m working on running with my head up more so I can see where guys are going to hit me.”
A healthy Trinidad would go a long way toward alleviating the pressure on an inexperienced offensive line, while Lamb’s presence in the defensive backfield means the Mustangs can roll coverage to the other side of the field and dictate more to opposing offenses.
Both will play pivotal roles in determining Mitchell’s season.
Correspondent Chris Errington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.