Next man up serves Trojans well vs. LincolnBy: Matt Long of the Telegraph
No team is going to feel sorry for another that losses players due to injury.
The Trojans, one of the top teams in the Division I field, played Friday’s first-round playoff game against Lincoln without their starting quarterback, center, and defensive end, and still came away with a 63-12 win. Showing great depth, Oak Ridge’s Matt Jenner moved from receiver to quarterback to replace Marco Baldacchino, while Sawyer Merrill took his spot at receiver. With Bailey Smith out, Zach Welch moved from tackle to center, and Jesse Jimenez moved from guard to tackle, while Greg Masegian returned to the lineup at guard.
Nathan Addleman replaced Devin Kemp at defensive end, and when Davin Simmons twisted his ankle on the game’s first play, Addleman was then the team’s running back.
With all that, the Trojans didn’t miss a beat.
“We were a bit nervous before the game, as we faced all that adversity with guys out,” Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere said. “The guys who stepped in had great games, and it was a lot of fun. Nathan went from a guy who didn’t see a lot of reps to be a two-way starter and played really well. That speaks to his preparation.”
Matt Jenner turned in a superb effort at quarterback, as he threw six touchdown passes and passed for 302 yards.
“Matt got better as the game went on,” Cavaliere said. “He let the game come to him. He really stepped up on a short week. Cooper came in and the offense kept going, and he played well too. We threw touchdown passes to six different receivers.”
Austin Jarrard and Justin Poerio had huge games for the Trojans. Jarrard caught three passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, while Poerio hauled in six passes for 121 yards and two scores.
Hayden Nabors, Tyler Jeppesen, Gage King and Merrill also caught touchdown passes, as Crick threw two to go along with Jenner’s six.
Oak Ridge had no trouble running the ball either, as the team gained 213 yards on 37 carries. Addleman carried the ball 20 times for 76 yards and one score to lead the way. Jenner, Poerio, Mitch Anderson and Gui Lozada gained at least 20 yards rushing, while Crick finished with 19.
While Kemp is out for the season, as of Sunday it was unsure whether Baldacchino, Simmons, or Smith would be back for the Trojans’ second-round game at home against undefeated 11-0 Gregori.
“They are undefeated for a reason,” Cavaliere said of Gregori. “For the third straight week, we’re going to face a quarterback who has thrown for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. They’ve had an impressive season.”
Seventh-seeded Gregori won the first playoff game in their program’s history last week, defeating Franklin, 45-20.