Great Eight: 8-time FHSAA champion Trinity Christian chases history in 2A football final

·7 min read

When Trinity Christian rang in the 1990s, eight wins looked like a target out of reach for Conquerors football.

Now, one coach and three decades later, Trinity is the proud owner of eight state championship trophies, and aiming for more.

Trophy number nine is in view Thursday night at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee, where the Conquerors take on Hialeah Champagnat Catholic in the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 2A football championship.

A championship would also be the ninth for Trinity head coach Verlon Dorminey, who topped the 300-win mark in September during his 31st season at the helm of Conquerors football, and would tie Trinity for second-most state titles in Northeast Florida history — University Christian has captured nine championships, while Bolles leads the region with 11.

It's a record that looked unthinkable in 1991 when Dorminey took over a long-struggling Trinity program that had never before qualified for FHSAA regionals.

There's no question about Thursday's challenge against Champagnat (10-2). The Lions have lost only twice, both to established South Florida powers in Gulliver Prep and Miami Northwestern.

But overcoming the obstacles is nothing new for the Conquerors when championship week rolls around. Here's a look back at Trinity's eight previous FHSAA titles.

Trinity Christian Academy players celebrate after their 42-7 victory over American Heritage to win the Class A state football championship Thursday in Tallahassee on December 12, 2002. [Rick Wilson/Florida Times-Union]
Trinity Christian Academy players celebrate after their 42-7 victory over American Heritage to win the Class A state football championship Thursday in Tallahassee on December 12, 2002. [Rick Wilson/Florida Times-Union]


Trinity Christian 42, Delray Beach American Heritage 7

WHEN: Dec. 12, 2002

WHERE: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee

RECAP: After years of near-misses, including an exasperating 1999 upset loss to Frostproof, ultimate victory arrived for Trinity in 2002. The Conquerors left little doubt, powered on the ground by a 154-yard performance from Lamar Lewis, despite falling behind in the first quarter. Special teams swung the game: Kicker Kyle Murray set a still-unsurpassed record for kicking points in a state championship game, and a well-timed fake punt from Bernie Hurley to Bubba Motes set up the Conquerors for a touchdown seconds before halftime and a 22-7 lead at the break. Trinity's defense came through as well by pouncing on four fumbles, two of them recovered and one forced by Scott Saling.

The 300-win club: Trinity Christian football coach Verlon Dorminey's top career wins

Conquerors' charge: Trinity Christian rallies past Orlando Christian Prep in semifinal

Trinity Christian's Brett Bowers (7) tries to run away from Fort Meade defender Dariel Huddlen (27) after catching a pass during the 2003 Class A final.
Trinity Christian's Brett Bowers (7) tries to run away from Fort Meade defender Dariel Huddlen (27) after catching a pass during the 2003 Class A final.


Trinity Christian 17, Fort Meade 7

WHEN: Dec. 11, 2003

WHERE: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville

RECAP: A repeat in the Swamp. Steve Betros made the impact on defense for the Conquerors, forcing two fumbles that turned into 14 Trinity Christian points. Franchot Allen carried the second fumble back to the Fort Meade 1, setting up a score, while Lamar Lewis, Mike Pompa and Drew Steinmetz all kept the football moving on the ground. Trinity's defense stood firm throughout, limiting the Miners to 145 total yards and denying Fort Meade's last incursion inside the Trinity 5. The win extended the Conquerors' winning streak to 26 games, and made them Jacksonville's second back-to-back FHSAA champion following University Christian in 1991 and 1992.

Trinity Christian defenders Marc Everhart (79) and Nick Washington combine to tackle American Heritage running back Greg Bryant (4) during the 2010 Class 1A football championship.
Trinity Christian defenders Marc Everhart (79) and Nick Washington combine to tackle American Heritage running back Greg Bryant (4) during the 2010 Class 1A football championship.


Trinity Christian 27, Delray Beach American Heritage 10

WHEN: Dec. 10, 2010

WHERE: Citrus Bowl, Orlando

RECAP: Turning the tables. American Heritage had denied Trinity Christian in the 2009 final, and returned a loaded roster to take on the Conquerors in the rematch. Dorminey tweaked Trinity's approach for the championship game, keeping the offense on the ground for almost the entire game — Trinity attempted only one pass, an FHSAA final record — and the strategy paid off. Andrew Buie dashed to the end zone for 242 yards, and four touchdowns the big one coming in the third quarter. American Heritage had sliced Trinity's lead from 13-0 to 13-10, but facing third-and-15 at his own 46, Buie broke free for a 54-yard touchdown. Ahmad Christian and Nick Washington led a secondary that denied the Patriots for Trinity's third title.

Trinity Christian raises the trophy after their victory over Clearwater Central Catholic in the 2013 FHSAA Class 3A state football championship at the Citrus Bowl.
Trinity Christian raises the trophy after their victory over Clearwater Central Catholic in the 2013 FHSAA Class 3A state football championship at the Citrus Bowl.


Trinity Christian 34, Clearwater Central Catholic 7

WHEN: Dec. 7, 2013

WHERE: Citrus Bowl, Orlando

RECAP: They were young, and they were ready. A Trinity defense starting seven juniors held the Marauders down through a scoreless first half until the Conquerors' offense was ready to break out. That they did after halftime. Trinity erupted for 27 points in the space of six minutes and 19 seconds entering the third quarter, including a pair of rushing touchdowns by wide receiver Isaiah Ford, who finished with 102 rushing yards in all. The Conquerors forced five turnovers, including a 63-yard fumble return to the end zone by Deontai Williams. The victory heralded the start of a mid-decade dynasty.

Trinity Christian's T.J. Jackson (54) hoists Rasheed Martin (23) after Martin scores their team's third touchdown against American Heritage during the second half of high school FHSAA Class 3A final football action at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, December 6, 2014. [Gary McCullough/For the Times-Union]
Trinity Christian's T.J. Jackson (54) hoists Rasheed Martin (23) after Martin scores their team's third touchdown against American Heritage during the second half of high school FHSAA Class 3A final football action at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, December 6, 2014. [Gary McCullough/For the Times-Union]

Trinity Christian 27, Delray Beach American Heritage 7

WHEN: December 6, 2014

WHERE: Citrus Bowl, Orlando

RECAP: Back-to-back. A 20-point burst after halftime, sparked by four takeaways, put away an American Heritage squad that was averaging 406 yards per game. Five-star cornerback Kevin Toliver II scored the opening touchdown, a 15-yard dash up the middle after the Conquerors recovered a muffed punt, and Trinity was off to the races. When American Heritage finally crossed midfield in the third quarter, safety Ben Edwards picked off a pass and Trinity's Chris Barr subsequently took off for an 82-yard touchdown run, part of Trinity's 335-yard performance on the ground. A Trinity lineup loaded with major college prospects brought home the school's fifth state title.

Trinity Christian quarterback Billy Cobb (12) stiff-arms American Heritage's Logan Wakefield (52) during the first half of the FHSAA high school Class 3A state football championship at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. [Gary McCullough/For the Times-Union]
Trinity Christian quarterback Billy Cobb (12) stiff-arms American Heritage's Logan Wakefield (52) during the first half of the FHSAA high school Class 3A state football championship at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. [Gary McCullough/For the Times-Union]



Trinity Christian 30, Delray Beach American Heritage 3

WHEN: December 5, 2015

WHERE: Citrus Bowl, Orlando

RECAP: The perfect end to the perfect season. Trinity rolled past everyone in sight in 2015, one of the most dominant seasons for any team in Northeast Florida history, and the Class 3A championship was no exception. Billy Cobb's 90-yard downfield strike to D.J. Matthews, tying an FHSAA finals record, summed up the blowout. Safety Chamarri Conner added a 51-yard interception return, Cobb passed for 264 yards on the day and the Conquerors overpowered American Heritage from start to finish. Result: three in a row.

Trinity Christian wide receiver Isaiah Washington (14) catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown defended by Chaminade-Madonna's Bradley Royas (13) during the first half of the FHSAA Class 3A football final in 2016.
Trinity Christian wide receiver Isaiah Washington (14) catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown defended by Chaminade-Madonna's Bradley Royas (13) during the first half of the FHSAA Class 3A football final in 2016.


Trinity Christian 24, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 13

WHEN: December 10, 2016

WHERE: Camping World Stadium, Orlando

RECAP: History arrived for Trinity, a champion for the fourth year in a row. They had to fight back for it — Chaminade-Madonna's Shaun Shivers broke clear for an 80-yard touchdown on the game's opening snap — but in the end, the Conquerors' array of talent was just too great. Rasheed Martin rushed for 156 yards, D.J. Matthews passed for a touchdown and ran for another and defensive backs Shaun Wade and Derrick Smith pulled down key interceptions to put the South Florida opponents away. The Conquerors became only the fifth team in state history to win four consecutive FHSAA football championships, along with Suwannee, Miami Central, Miami Booker T. Washington and Tallahassee North Florida Christian.

Trinity Christian wide receiver Marcus Burke (4) catches a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the 2020 Class 3A FHSAA final against Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna.
Trinity Christian wide receiver Marcus Burke (4) catches a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the 2020 Class 3A FHSAA final against Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna.


Trinity Christian 25, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 22

WHEN: Dec. 16, 2020

WHERE: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee

RECAP: The first half looked like anything but the start of another championship. Trinity fell behind 16-0, and in the first 18 minutes, they were driven backward for a net total of minus-40 yards. But receiver Marcus Burke, injured for almost the entire regular season, turned his final day in a Conquerors uniform — he had signed with Florida in the morning — into a 144-yard night to remember. After a Kaleb Killian touchdown had narrowed the gap, Burke caught a 51-yard go-ahead pass from Ja'Cory Jordan for a fourth-quarter lead. Chaminade-Madonna's Thaddius Franklin rushed the South Florida school back in front with three minutes to go, but on fourth-and-seven at the 26 with 48 seconds to go, Jordan lofted a 26-yard pass for a diving Burke in the end zone. It was the game-winner, and when Johnathan Goddard and Bryce Capers combined on a game-ending sack at midfield, Trinity players cheered the eighth and most stressful FHSAA title in school history.

Clayton Freeman covers high school sports and more for the Florida Times-Union. Follow him on Twitter at @CFreemanJAX.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Trinity Christian football an eight-time FHSAA high school champion

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting