Something amazing happened Friday night on the Northside. Bryan Station won his first regional championship in 23 years.
And the score, Bryan Station 10, Trinity 7, would shock even the most casual observer of Kentucky high school football.
Defenders (10-3) took down the 800-pound Class 6A gorilla, the 27-time KHSAA champion who isn’t expected to lose to anyone, let alone a Lexington team.
“Kids bought here at Bryan Station. And that’s all it takes. Once you buy, anything is possible,” said JT Haskins Sr., the defensive coordinator who played a key role in the Defenders’ previous win over Trinity as a player in 1999 – also the last time Station played. won a regional title. This Bryan Station team went on to finish second in the state.
Bryan Station’s offensive, defensive and special teams each played an important role on Friday. It was a complete victory that would make any coach proud.
“We know the will of our children to find a way to win,” said head coach Phillip Hawkins, who has now scored 10 wins in his three seasons at school. “Our children are disjointed. They’re scrappy enough to win a match like this.
Trading touches and turnovers
Trinity (8-5) scored first, gaining the upper hand in the field position battle that went down on three punts on the game’s first three possessions. Drew Allen capped a 14-play, 59-yard drive with a touchdown just inches on fourth down to help the Shamrocks lead 7-0 with 8:52 left in the second quarter.
The station responded immediately. Defenders quarterback Trenton Cutwright slashed the Trinity defense with a 44-yard run to set up a first-and-go from the Rocks 10-yard line. Three plays later, he rolled left and dove towards the goal-line pylon to help tie the game 7-7 with 4:43 to go until halftime.
Maybe neither race was plan A for the called game, but Cutwright has a pretty good plan B.
“Just seeing nothing was open and trusting my legs,” Cutwright said of his shoving. “Coaches tell me I have playmakers at receiver, but I’m also a playmaker. So sometimes I have to trust my legs, get us down the field and put us in a position to to mark.
Bryan Station forced a punt on Trinity’s next possession and collected the ball in midfield. But Caleb Hicks’ interception of Cutwright’s pass in the end zone denied a scoring opportunity just before halftime – at least for a moment.
Two plays later, Station’s Dahvon Frazier sacked Allen, forcing a fumble that was recovered by his brother Jahvon Frazier at the Trinity 8-yard line.
Hawkins still had two timeouts, but his plan to hammer in a tiebreaker failed as running back Jeremiah Mundy-Lloyd was stopped three times, the last at the 1-yard line as time ran out. It could have been a costly mistake, but it was a bet Hawkins made with the support of his players.
“They came up to me and said, ‘We want to pitch it, Coach,'” Hawkins said. situations like that. … In the end, it worked.
The big kick and the big lick
Another series of punts started the third quarter with Bryan Station taking the field advantage this time. Starting at their own 35, the Defenders’ second drive of the half included a fourth-and-4 conversion which Cutwright earned by drawing Trinity offside with his quick pace. On the next play, Cutwright drove 28 yards to the Trinity 12-yard line to set the go-ahead score.
Zachary Gentry, who had attempted just two field goals all year, started on 35 yards for a 10-7 lead at Bryan Station with 2:21 left in the third quarter. It’s 3 for 3 now.
“He pulled it off,” Hawkins said. “We got him from the football team. We taught him. It’s his first year and he did what he was supposed to do.
Trinity responded with his longest drive of the game as Allen and running backs Clinton Sansbury and Jeremiah Lynn took turns hammering yards to set up a first and a goal at the Bryan Station 7-yard line.
However, Lynn’s next outburst in the middle was met by a hit from Bryan Station’s Kyzaun Butler at 1. The ball went loose. Bryan Station’s Maishaun Baker-Thomas picked it up in the end zone for a touchdown with 10:27 left in the game.
“We knew our defense was pretty good,” Hawkins said. “They let us put stopwatches on the teams. Tonight, when they needed to be at their best, they were at their best.
Last chance for the Shamrocks
Trinity collected the ball near midfield two minutes later. But back-to-back incomplete passes, one to a wide-open Noah Meyers in the end zone, stalled the series and forced a field goal attempt from 45 yards out. Kellan McLaughlin, the Rocks’ leading scorer and leading kicker in the state, missed the wide right.
Station won the ball at 20 with a 10-7 lead with 5:42 left. Trinity’s attack did not see the pitch again.
Cutwright converted a third-and-12 with an 18-yard pass down the middle to Dahvon Frazier. And he converted a fourth and a 4 at Trinity’s 40 with another instant offside. Hawkins relished this one.
“From the outside, people would say Bryan Station would be the one offside,” Hawkins said. “So good to see Trinity jump for once and not Bryan Station.”
Mundy-Lloyd took it from there, snarling for 28 of 116 yards on the final drive.
“We love this kid and we ask a lot of him,” Hawkins said. “People know what we are going to do. When you lead this attack, they know we’re going down. He gets the ball back and everyone goes to him and he just barrels and barrels and barrels.
And it doesn’t bother him. Mundy-Lloyd’s final 5 yards, on a fourth-and-5 with 53 seconds left, earned the first down that sealed the game.
“It was tough for them boys, they usually stop running. I just kept grinding,” Mundy-Lloyd said. “Coach gave it to me and I kept grinding. … Believe me. I like this.”
Next Friday, Bryan Station will host East Bullitt (12-1) in the Class 6A Football Semi-Finals UK HealthCare Sports Medicine State. The winner goes to Kroger Field to play for a state championship.
For now, though, it’s time to savor a historic win for the program.
“I can’t even explain it. … It’s great to bring that back to the community, to the school,” Cutwright said. “And we move on to the next one.”
This story was originally published November 19, 2022 7:37 a.m.