For the second consecutive year, the Trenton Tigers clinched a birth in the Class 1-A football state championship game. Orange and black flooded the streets of downtown Trenton as residents gathered to see the team off.
The Tigers return to the state final after defeating the Dixie County Bears in the semifinals. Dixie County handed Trenton its only loss of the season just a few weeks ago.
Larry Smith, grandfather of starting quarterback Stephen Smith, feels a big high school game is perfect for bringing the community together.
“You’ve got tremendous community buy-in. You’ve got tremendous buy-in from the players, buy-in from the parents, lots of enthusiasm, lots of energy…it’s really exciting to see a team come together with one goal in mind,” Smith said.
Trenton will face top-ranked Blountstown in the championship game. Returning starters like Stephen Smith have the Tiger faithful confident in their team’s ability to finish what they could not last year.
Head Coach Andrew Thomas has made an effort to eliminate distractions for his players, a practice he feels has led to the best week of practice the Tigers have had all season.
“We just have to go out there and play. Not a lot of people have seen us play or given us a lot of respect. We’ve beaten some good football teams this year, and our kids are not going to be intimidated when we take the field tonight,” Thomas said.
Thomas was grateful for all the support he and his players have received this season, and plans on thanking supporters by handling what he’s calling “unfinished business.”
Kick-off for the Class 1-A state final is scheduled for 7:07 tonight at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL.