There are a lot of new things connected to the Trinity Christian Academy Eagles football team this fall.
For starters, they have a new coach and athletic director, Bryan Marmian, who comes to lead the program with a wealth of experience in both the high school and college ranks. He replaces Joe Hamstra, who, likewise, was both head football coach and AD since 2015.
Hamstra left to start a ministry that identifies at-risk children and matches them with Christian schools.
Marmion’s 30-year career includes 14 years of coaching collegiately, 16 years as a high school head coach and 20 years of high school administration experience, including 16 as athletic director. And he’s enjoyed eight high school playoff appearances, three district titles, and one state semifinals appearance.
He restarted the Texas Lutheran football program after it had been disbanded 11 years prior to his arrival. He also started the football program at San Antonio Christian and built it into one of the top Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 5A programs in the state.
Now, his plan is to return the Eagles to the prominence they knew not so long ago when they won a Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Division III state championship in 2018. Since, however, they have gone 7-22 over the past three seasons, though they have reached the playoffs each season.
The Eagles return nine starters whom played both offense and defense in 2021 for a squad that finished 2-8. The team was ravaged by COVID, particularly on the line and in the defensive backfield.
“As happened with a lot of teams, it decimated a lot of positions. With us it was linemen, and then DBs,” Marmian said, noting that the team dressed 13 players for one game.
The Eagles will switch to a spread offense this season, which means more throwing the ball.
They are led offensively by senior quarterback Evan Chrane. While he missed much of last season with a knee injury, he still managed to pass for 373 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He is also the team’s top returning rusher with 479 yards and three touchdowns, average 7.7 yards per carry.
“He’s a good athlete. He’s worked very hard on his mechanics and is a much better thrower,” Marmian said. “And if that quarterback is a runner it puts more pressure on the defense.”
Senior tailback Caleb Nelson averaged 4.6 yards on 212 carries. Sophomore Asa Dowling, one of the team’s leading rushers and receivers, transferred to Weatherford High School.
Chrane and Nelson have plenty of experience blocking for them. Junior Jackson Sykes moved to the line following the team’s COVID outbreak, and though he’s listed as a wide receiver this season he could also see time back on the line. Seniors Ben Camp, a state discus champion, and Jack Lytle also return up front.
As to who Chrane will throw to, that is something of a question mark with all of last season’s top receivers having graduated. The Eagles could be running a receivers-by-committee attack in 2022.
“Summer 7-on-7 was really good for us,” Marmian said. “We were commenting on staff about how few drops we had in Week 1.
“There will be a little bit of committee. They have to get seasons, but as far as talent we feel good about the group.”
The Eagles will run a 3-3 defense, Marmian said.
“It’s not unique to us. At this level most defensive lineman go both ways,” Marmian said. Nelson and Jackson Sykes return at linebacker, while his twin brother Matthew Sykes, also a junior, returns in the defensive backfield. Camp and Lytle return to highlight the defensive line.
Chrane will also see time in the defensive backfield.
Oh, Chrane also punts. So does freshman Riley McCraken.
The placekicking chores will also be handled by McCracken, along with sophomore Micah Harless.
Some newcomers look to bring excitement to the team this season.
Junior receiver Nathan Williams, a transfer from Temple Christian, is expected to enhance the passing game. Likewise for junior Jake Anderson, whose family moved back to the area after a year in Argyle.
Also, junior tailback Jake Wallis is expected to contribute to both the rushing and receiving departments.
The Eagles’ roster features five seniors, five juniors, six sophomores and nine freshmen.
“In Texas these kids are dreaming about wearing that varsity jersey for years. It’s awesome when they finally get to,” Marmian said. “We’ve got a fairly young team this year and we’ve got a lot of kids going through that process.”
Marmian said he is putting as much emphasis on the middle school programs as the high school level to better prepare athletes for when they get to the higher level.the
“We adjusted our full-time varsity coaches’ schedule as much as possible to be available for our junior high athletic periods,” he said. “It makes a huge difference in the mindset.”
The Eagles’ travel schedule will be a lot lighter this season. Whereas in the past they even had to travel down the road for home games, now they have a brand new on-campus stadium. It will be debuted Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. when the Eagles host Dallas Christian Home Educators.
“Having an on-campus stadium creates a Friday Nights Lights experience,” Marmian said. “A lot of good is going to come from us having an on-campus stadium.
“Before, everything was on the road. Once you pack up, it doesn’t matter where you travel, you’re still traveling.”
Marmian noted the new stadium, which is part of a three-phase project, required no increased tuition and no taking on debt. He said it was built through fundraising and donations.
The first phase also included a track inside the stadium. The second phase includes facilities for baseball, softball and tennis. Phase 3 includes an indoor workout facility.
The Eagles will compete in the extremely challenging TAPPS Division III District 1 this season. Joining them will be perennial powers Arlington Grace Prep (10-1 in 2021), Pantego Christian (10-2), and Lubbock Christian (10-4), along with Colleyville Covenant (7-4) and Fort Worth Lake Country (4-6).
Four teams from the district will advance to the playoffs, Marmian said.
Like the Eagles, Pantego, Grace and Covenant run the spread offense.
“There’s going to be a lot of learning that will happen,” Marmian said. “As long as we’re improving each week, are mentally in tune, performing, practicing hard and show up and play our guts out, what more can I ask of them?
“I’ve never been one to say we’re building for the future. These kids here now deserve better than that.”
Along with Marmian, the coaching staff has a few other new faces.
Perry Myer is the new running backs/defensive line coach. He was formerly the head coach at Keller Harvest.
Billy Warren, who was at Aledo for 20-plus years, came of retirement to coach linebackers and running backs. He is also a mentor coach, Marmian said.
Brian Snow is the defensive coordinator and Cody McKenzie as offensive coordinator are back. Taylor Edwards will coach the offensive line. Matt Edwards, a local pastor, is a part-time assistant.
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 26 at Temple Christian 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 2 at Waco Reicher 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 DalCHE 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 Olney 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Dallas Covenant 7:30 p.m.
*Oct. 7 Lake Co. Chr. (HC) 7:30 p.m.
*Oct. 14 Grace Prep 7:30 p.m.
*Oct. 21 Pantego (Sr. Night) 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28 at Lubbock Christian 6 p.m.
*Nov. 4 at Covenant Christian 7 p.m.
*= TAPPS Division III District 1 game
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