The Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals are gearing up for their first game in 476 days Saturday in Miami, Oklahoma.
“This is what they have been waiting for,” TVCC coach Sherard Poteete said. “All of the work and preparation and getting ready for all of the hard work with early mornings and having everything pulled out from under you and dealing with the blood, sweat, tears and everything is finally paying off. You finally get to play.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the original start date of the 2020 season was pushed back to the spring by the NJCAA.
“We had spring ball canceled last year and we could deal with that,” Poteete said. “We were getting the guys geared up ready to report for Summer 2, and get ready for the fall of 2020. We had Zoom meetings and get the kids here July 5 and then on that Friday, the NJCAA comes out with moving the season to the spring. That is what took the air out of our guys.”
Trinity Valley now makes the six hour road trip to Miami Saturday to face the Golden Norsemen in the season opener of an eight game regular season. Kickoff for the opener is set for 2:30 p.m.
“This is the COVID 2020 schedule in the spring of 2021,” Poteete said. “We are fortunate enough to be playing. The kids are getting an opportunity to go and play. It has been a long time. We have had some time off and our team will look different. I think that is how it is going to be across the board. There is a lot of unknown since we are going up to Miami to play NEO.
The last time the Cardinals played was Dec. 8, 2019, when they finished with a record of 7-4 overall. They played No. 7 ranked Butler in the Midwest Classic Bowl at Red Robertson Field in Miami.
“We were talking to the team about how excited we were about looking forward to spring football practice one year ago,” Poteete said. “We were coming off the bowl game as the only team in Texas to be playing in a bowl game and a good season in 2019. We were making phone calls during Spring Break saying don’t come back because COVID has arrived.”
The big question for Poteete is what will he see from his unit and from the Golden Norsemen Saturday.
“We don’t know what we will see and Zach (Crissup) is a good coach,” Poteete said. “He was my linebackers coach when I was the coach at NEO. He is a great guy and will have his guys ready. He has been a defensive coordinator the last couple of years. We are preparing that he will be somewhat similar to what he has been the last couple of years.”
He said fans will see some changes from previous years with the Cardinals in terms of personnel and how they attack teams on offense.
“We are going to be very versatile this year. What we do is we are going to run the football and throw it when the opportunity arrives and we are going to go fast. Our personnel may change from time to time, but we will be versatile this spring,” Poteete said. “All of our base offense is in and we have had 16 practices to get all of that in. What we expect NEO to do is tweak it some on the sideline and get ready to make the adjustments on the grease boards when the time comes.”
Poteete said all three phases of the Cardinals team is solid heading into this week’s opener. He said the keys to victory will be figured out early in the game.
“The team that doesn’t turn the ball over and have foolish penalties will win the game. Offensively, if we can run the football effectively we will be good,” Poteete said. “Defensively, if you can be a veteran I feel really good about the linebacking core. We don’t know what their offense will be like or what the offensive coordinator will be doing. Hopefully we can go out their and execute our game plan and make some adjustments really quick on both sides once we have an idea of what they are doing.”
He also said they will make the decision on who takes the opening day snaps at quarterback with a room of seven players heading into Saturday.
“We have been fortunate enough to work with all of those seven guys to have equal opportunity over the last several weeks to work on the game plan,” Poteete said. “I want all of the guys to have a chance to compete. I love our quarterback room and we have never been this deep in here. They have done a good job of sticking together and it will be a fun year.”