NEW PARIS — National Trail’s football team made the playoffs for the first time in the school’s history last season.
The Blazers finished 8-2 in the regular season before bowing out in the first round. It was history in the making, yes, but the football team isn’t satisfied with just making it to the playoffs any longer.
“Last year, we were happy making the playoffs. After we lost, (the team) doesn’t want to just be happy being there. They want to win a game and continue to make history and get this program going,” said fourth year head coach Tony Sonsini.
When Sonsini and his staff took over the program four years ago, they wanted to clean up the mantra of football at National Trail.
“The 40 years before my staff and I took over, the kids didn’t take it as serious. We came in and really re-focused on all the little things – the weight room, conditioning, etc. – and the kids bought into it,” said Sonsini. “Making the playoffs last year was really good for the community. It’s just a positive atmosphere and the kids have really bought into it.”
The Blazers have their work cut out for them this season though, as they graduated five main contributors from last year’s squad.
Those five seniors were wide receiver Josh Lee and four linemen: Davis Baker, Nick Davis, Adam Behringer, and Devin Mize.
“Those five seniors really contributed. We have to replace them, but we have a great senior class with a lot of experience,” said Sonsini.
They will return three-year starter and quarterback Garrett Griffin, however. Griffin holds nearly every passing record in school history including completions, yards, completion percentage, and passing touchdowns in a single season. He completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 3,098 yards, 38 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He also had 331 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.
Griffin will also be joined by seniors Phillip White, Zach Sullivan, Josh Baker, Nick Carpenter, and Cody Hapner.
“We have a solid group of seniors that really dedicated time to the weight room. All the little things you need to do to make the program successful,” said Sonsini.
With the recent success of the program, football doesn’t look to be slowing down at National Trail either.
“We’re up to 43 kids (in the program) so every year the number is steadily growing,” said Sonsini. “We have more kids coming out – we have a big freshmen class and a big sophomore class. That stuff is starting to be exciting. The kids like all the stuff we do. We do team cleats, we do team shoes. We want to look and act like a team.”
National Trail opens up the season at Preble Shawnee on Friday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m.