Undefeated football team looks to maintain record against Trinity
There are high hopes around the Centre football program, with the team off to its first 7-0 start since 1989 and ranked #25 in the latest D3football.com poll. However, as a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) showdown with Trinity looms this weekend, head coach Andy Frye and the Colonels have their sights set even higher.
Centre (7-0, 4-0 SCAC) has experienced its share of success so far, but a win Saturday at Trinity could make the season truly one to remember. The Tigers are also undefeated (8-0, 4-0 SCAC), currently ranked #18 in the D3football.com Poll and #13 in the AFCA Coaches Poll. A win would not only be the school’s first 8-0 start since finishing 8-0 in 1955, but with the teams holding a two-game lead over the rest of the conference, the winner will claim at least a share of the SCAC Championship, and along with it, the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
A conference title would be the Colonels’ first since 2003, and while there have been several near misses, the playoff bid would be the school’s first under the current format and the first postseason appearance since 1921.
“There’s no question there’s excitement,” Frye said of the possibility of a SCAC championship and playoff bid. “This team is intense, but one of the great things about them is that you can tell they’re having fun. As long as we’re practicing hard and they’re having a blast playing, I couldn’t ask for anything more. That’s the way it should be.”
Frye goes on to credit the 19-man senior class for giving the team that level-headed approach and setting the tone for the season.
“I give credit to our seniors because they’re very goal oriented,” Frye added. “They’re good leaders and they’ve worked very hard this year developing followers. I think the underclassmen respect and admire what they’re doing, and it has had a huge impact on our season.”
Despite the hot start, it took some time for Centre to gain recognition nationally. The Colonels started to get attention with a 45-20 road win over then-unbeaten and 24th ranked Birmingham-Southern on Oct. 15, but it wasn’t until this week that the Colonels broke into the D3football.com poll. Centre still sits among the others receiving votes at #27 in the AFCA Coaches Poll. According to Frye, though, the team refuses to get caught up in the rankings, preferring to keep up the success on the field and let the rankings take care of themselves.
“We didn’t really make a big thing about it,” said Frye of the polls. “After we beat Birmingham-Southern when they were in the top 25, I’m sure there were a few of our players who questioned why [Centre was unranked]. You have to earn it, and I think there are several teams in the top 25 who have had great seasons and playoff success in the past. We don’t need to make a big deal about saying we should be thrust into this thing because we’re having a good season. If we continue to do what we’re trying to do, those things will come.”
By all indications, Saturday’s matchup, which pits Centre’s SCAC-leading scoring offense against Trinity’s league-best scoring defense, should be fairly evenly matched. Though Trinity holds a 14-8 overall edge in the series, the teams have alternated wins since Centre broke a seven-game losing streak in 2008. Centre won last year’s meeting in Danville 26-7.
“When two good football teams are playing, I think it comes down to mistakes,” said Frye, whose team defeated Millsaps last week by winning the turnover battle 3-0, despite being outgained 405-237. “Joe Paterno said there are usually seven or eight plays that make the difference in a football game, and the problem is you don’t know which ones those are. I agree with that. There will be seven or eight plays that will markedly make a difference in the outcome. There’s only so much we can control, and that’s making sure we minimize our mental mistakes, making sure we secure the ball and making sure we exploit their mistakes.”
The two teams kick off Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CST. Fans can follow live stats and video through Trinity’s website.