TRION — Culture change. It is definitely happening in the Gordon Central football program.
New head coach Cory Nix has seemed to reenergize the players and fans of the team with his confident, outspoken style. He is seeking to change things surrounding the team, and people are buying in. Thursday night’s spring game at Trion was the first real opportunity to show how the new era at Gordon Central was unfolding.
Gordon Central came out in the first half a little flat, and the home side started off strong. Trion got the ball to start the game on its own 30-yard line. (There were no kickoffs so the ball was automatically placed there each time.) The Bulldogs then promptly scored via a 49-yard touchdown run by Cole Phillips.
After forcing the Warriors to punt (not real punts, just ball placed at referee’s discretion), Trion scored again, this time on a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jarret Gill to Tanner Railey. Gill led all quarterbacks on the night as he went 5-of-5 passing (in limited action) for 90 yards and the aforementioned score.
Six minutes later, the Bulldogs found themselves on the scoresheet again as Noah Deparlier took a reverse handoff into the end zone from 10 yards out.
Trion scored three more touchdowns in the first half. The first was a one-yard burst by Libni Ramirez into the end zone.
The second was a 63-yard pass from backup quarterback Noah Edgeworth to Hagen Willingham (the resulting extra point was missed), who scampered into the end zone, and the third was a 10-yard touchdown pass from Edgeworth to Brett Brown.
The Trion defense was excellent all night and held the Warriors scoreless in the first half. Gordon Central did muster a nice, long drive but could not do anything with it in the end. The home side took a 41-0 lead heading into the break.
The young guys from both teams saw the field in the second half. The Warriors came out with a chip on their shoulder and looked very much improved.
While Gordon Central could not get it into the end zone, they did move the ball well on offense thanks in large part to some gritty runs by backup quarterback Clayton Hogue.
The Warrior defense also toughened up and only allowed one more score in the game. That score was a 20-yard touchdown pass from Trion’s Dawson Brown to Kodiak Crabbe with a little over five and a half minutes left to play. The final buzzer sounded, and Trion went home the victors, 48-0.
As far as statistics go for the Warriors, it was kind of spread out. However, starting quarterback Dawson Lackey completed a pass for nine yards. His backup Hogue led the Warriors in rushing with 29 yards on ten carries. Also, the Warrior defense was scrappy (particularly in the second half) and made some big defensive plays.
While the results of the game did not particularly show it, this Gordon Central team showed that it is different and is definitely heading in the right direction.
Nix said the Spring was positive overall and he expects the improvement to continue over the Summer.
“Spring ball has been great honestly,” said Nix. “The kids have been working very hard. I’ve only been here eight weeks. I’ve got staff that are not here full time, so spring was a challenge especially not having certain coaches at certain positions. But we did our best with it. The thing I am proud about with these kids is just the installment phase, the weight room and creating the culture that we’re trying to do. We’ve had some positives in those areas.
“About tonight, we faced a tough team in Trion. They had some experience, and you could tell they had been in the weight room. We’re not there yet. That doesn’t mean we’re not trying to get there, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. I think the kids are up for the challenge. They’re very resilient. They’re hungry. We’ve got a lot of good things going on as far as our culture change, new weight room, different things going on to build the program. Tonight in the first half, it was a shocker for these kids I think. They had been working and pouring their soul into it, and it wasn’t the result they wanted. It just means that we’ve got to work harder, honestly. We’ve got to continue to work harder in the weight room, continue to work harder in the classroom and continue to work harder on the football field.”
Nix is off to a strong start towards instilling a culture change at Gordon Central. Players look to be buying in to what Nix is saying.
While he will be the first to tell you it is a work in progress, there is already a different vibe around the team. As one parent put it postgame, Friday nights mean everything to him, and Nix is trying to make those glorious nights more successful ones for the Warriors.