By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published December 21, 2022
ATLANTA—Winning in double overtime, the Blessed Trinity Titans brought home the 7A State Championship trophy for girls’ flag football.
It is the school’s second year of fielding a team. The Titans’ inaugural team made it to 2021 semi-finals of the state championship.
At Georgia State University’s Center Parc Stadium on Dec. 8, the Titans faced the Milton High School Eagles.
After regulation time, the teams were tied at 7. Both teams scored in the first overtime and both missed the extra point. The game was tied at 13. In the second overtime, the Titans defense stopped Milton before its offense took over and put the football across the goal line with a pass from quarterback Julia Geis to receiver Jaclyn Johns from the five-yard line.
BT Coach Brandon Harwell shared his thoughts about the team, the championship season and how the school’s Catholic sports culture helped knit the team together:
What did your team do this year that was different from last season? What was the game plan at the start of the 2022 season, and what were the season’s key moments?
I am not sure that we did that much differently this year. With the success we had in our first season, we felt we had a strong foundation. Our game plan throughout the year was to continue to improve each day. We knew we had a special group of athletes and we had the chance to be good if we continued to focus on our skills and as a team.
A key component in the success of athletics in general at Blessed Trinity is our “Virtue=Strength program.” Each week, all of our sports programs meet and discuss a Catholic virtue. The virtue is discussed for three weeks to define, provide examples of the virtue in action, obstacles to living out the virtue, and then testimonials from the staff and players of the virtue in their lives. These discussions helped us grow together as a team in addition to the hard work the girls were putting in on the field.
There were many key moments in the season as each game took on critical importance due to the highly competitive area we were in this year. Winning the area championship gave us the opportunity to have home-field advantage for the first three rounds of the playoffs which was a big deal.
How did you win the championship game?
The team had excellent preparation leading up to the championship game and we had outstanding leadership from our seniors. During the game, the girls stayed focused on the task at hand no matter the circumstance and we were able to come out on top. I could not be more proud of the effort and enthusiasm of our 23 players; it took all of them to achieve this.
Can you point to one player who has been sort of under the radar on offense and defense?
On offense, Emma Elizabeth Hudkins was our starting center so she initiated our offense on every play. She did not have the same number of receiving yards as some of our wide receivers but she was crucial to our success on offense. Emma Elizabeth had 39 catches on the season including one for a touchdown in overtime of the championship game. On defense, Mary Stunda was our starting safety and led our team with six interceptions. She solidified the back end of our defense and helped eliminate the big play. The entire team could be listed as under- the-radar superstars, however. On offense, we had six players with more than 200 yards receiving. The players are Morgan Handzel, Clark Hamilton, Emma Elizabeth Hudkins, Ava Regitz, Jaclyn Johns and Carly Coopman. They were all very talented and were instrumental in our team success.
What do you hope this year has meant for the student athletes?
I hope the players look back on this season and remember all of the positive relationships they formed with one another as well as the culture they helped establish. The girls who were part of the team last year and graduated are very much part of the success we had this year as well. The foundation of success they established gave us a great start this year. Additionally, this was a very tight group of girls who complemented each other very well on and off the field. We all loved being around one another (coaches and players) and it was a joy to be out on the field with one another every day. I believe the lessons they have learned from this remarkable season will be transferable to many aspects of their lives for years to come.