STADIUM: Mitchell Stadium, 2323 Little Road, New Port Richey CLASS-DISTRICT: 6A-6 (with Fivay, Land O’ Lakes, Springstead, and Sunlake) COACH: Scott Schmitz (47-65, 12th season) LAST SEASON: 6-4
Trinidad getting noticed
Christian Trinidad, Sr., running back
For any team that boasts a running back as talented as Trinidad (785 yards, 10 TDs in eight games last season), it’s a definite plus.
Bringing size to outmuscle defenders at the line of scrimmage, moves to outmaneuver them once past the hole and speed to outrun them in the open field, Trinidad is easily one of the most talented returning Pasco County backs. His first touch last season encompassed his talents. Against playoff-bound Anclote, Trinidad turned a play stuffed at the line into an electrifying 85-yard sprint that spurred the Mustangs’ impressive 6-1 start.
“I think he’s the best running back in the county,” Mitchell coach Scott Schmitz said. “There some good ones, but Christian plays a lot stronger than he looks. He’s able to make something special every time he touches the ball.”
Mitchell, running a Wing-T offense, needs agile, intelligent offensive linemen who understand the nuances of pulling, trapping and angle blocking. Despite losing four starters from last season, Mitchell finds a way to put together a solid unit and this year should be no different. Senior guard Jeremy Gruerio anchors a line that also features senior guard Zac Curtis, center Austin Green and sophomore strong tackle Dillon Bryant. Schmitz believes this will open holes for one of the county’s best rushing attacks. “It started as a work in progress in the spring and we got better as spring moved on,” the veteran coach said. “We moved some pieces to the point where we’re going to be. They need to be a strength, if we’re going to be a good team.”
Receiving and Mitchell can go together in the same sentence thanks to what Schmitz believes is one of the most talented group of receivers he’s had in a while. Schmitz was able to coax 6-foot-5 Zach Rapaport — the basketball team’s starting center — to join, and following a “great spring and outstanding summer,” will team with sophomore J.J. Lewis and senior tight end Sam Mercer to give whoever wins the quarterback race legitimate options through the air. They are the reason Schmitz is installing more spread and shotgun plays this season. “You try to coach to your talent and we know the days of lining it up in the Wing-T and running that stuff, unless you’re a lot better than the team you’re playing, isn’t always going to work,” he said. “You’ve got to open it up and now we’ve got the players to allow us to do that.”
For the third straight season, Mitchell will start with a new signal caller. Senior Taylor Schneider, the team’s backup last season, is battling junior Alek Lambert for the starting nod. Schneider is the favorite to win the job based on experience, but Schmitz admits that Lambert is a better runner. Regardless, either one will be required to run a changing offense that’s run-first, but increasing its demand through the air. “We’re not going to be a team that throws it 20 times a game, but when we do throw it, we need our quarterback to make plays to move the chains,” Schmitz said.