“They have good speed in the backfield and they like to get to the corner and throw. They’re going to offer us a challenge, but we hope our speed does all right.”
The Trojans have a stingy defense that is holding opponents to just 12.3 points per game. The Trojans posted four shutouts during the regular season and have allowed just 13 points over two sectional games.
Gilbert credits defensive coordinator Memo Perez for his work. Perez brought a 3-4 defense to TC four years ago and the Trojans gradually built to this point.
“He does a wonderful job,” Gilbert said. “We have some outstanding kids playing defense. I would have to say Darius Stanley is leading the way. I think he has to be one of the best defensive and offensive linemen in the state.”
Stanley is a four-year starter. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound senior mans a tackle spot. He tops the team in solo tackles (31), QB sacks (six) and tackles for loss (18).
Senior linebacker Seth Blunck leads TC’s defensive points chart. Junior cornerback Cody Howell has a school-record eight interceptions.
Howell is the QB on offense. He has completed 70 of 121 pass attempts (58 percent) for 1,229 yards. He has thrown 21 TD passes — and only three interceptions.
Blunck, senior Jade Pickett and junior Bryce Dowell lead the receiving corps. They have combined for 17 TD receptions. Senior Garrett Kelley is the go-to guy on the ground. He has rushed for 1,370 yards and 15 touchdowns. He averages 7 yards per carry.
Gilbert loves what he has seen from his squad in practice this week. The Trojans have won 10 straight games and are hungry for more.
“I think when we entered the tournament series, our kids really started pulling together even more so than what they had during the season as far as their preparation, and this week has just been outstanding. We run from the time we get together at 3:25 and don’t stop until 6 o’clock and they really responded well,” he said.
Gilbert owns a 26-5 career record against Clinton Prairie. He went 23-2 against the Gophers in 19 seasons as Clinton Central’s coach, and is 3-3 against the Gophers in five seasons at TC.
SECTIONAL 44 FINAL • MATCHUP: Clinton Prairie (5-6) at Tri-Central (10-1) • TIME: 7 p.m.