A jersey encased in a wooden frame hangs high above Mitchell’s locker room. The No. 1 was ceremoniously retired to remind these 47 Mustangs that no player is more significant than any other.
That’s hard to digest considering the statistics Ricky Trinidad has produced in just two games this season.
The North Suncoast’s -- and the bay area's -- leading rusher has 399 yards and five touchdowns. Even more stunning, he has carried the football just 16 times for a whopping 24.94 yards per carry.
“We talk about those things,” Mitchell coach Brian Wachtel said. “No doubt after the 99-yard touchdown run, I said, ‘That was awesome, that was amazing.’ Some of his runs in the first two games were special. One play, he had five people that had an opportunity to bring him down. He drove his legs, broke off five people and just broke free.”
There’s a lot of emotion firing through Trinidad.
First is his desire to lead Mitchell to the playoffs. Last season, he missed a game and a half — one of those against defending Class 3A, District 7 champion Pasco. A back injury relegated Trinidad to coaching from the sideline.
“Could those have been wins if I was in there, who knows?” Trinidad said of Pasco and Land O’Lakes, district rivals that made the playoffs. “We can compete with those teams.”
Personally, Trinidad is targeting the North Suncoast rushing title. He admits to glancing at players such as Hernando running back Alvin Delaine (whom Trinidad called “the reigning champion”) and Nature Coast quarterback Ja’Juan Story, two players with monster running ability.
So far, he has topped them all.
A good portion of the success is credited to the offensive line, which was unproven entering the season after graduating all of its starters from 2009.
“Even though we have a young line they’ve opened a lot of holes for me,” Trinidad said. “I think once or twice I’ve been tackled at the line of scrimmage. I don’t think I’ve been tackled behind the line, but if I was it’s my fault. Every carry I feel fresh; I have a lot of energy.”
That could be because Trinidad has been utilized less. Wachtel said the Mustangs are trying to use a more diverse offense, and Trinidad said other players such as Edward Musto can play a bigger role.
“He’s had a lot of success and games when he’s been out by halftime,” Wachtel said. “He understands he could have been in the game and gotten more carries to get his personal goal. But he gets it. These other guys deserve an opportunity to get in.”
Then there’s the numbers.
In Trinidad’s first two games of 2009, he ran 35 times for 402 yards and two touchdowns. That’s more than twice carries he has this season.
Wear and tear is one thing Trinidad blames for his missed time last season. And part of him wonders if pulling back on his stats may have impacted his college recruitment.
Trinidad has scholarship offers from Georgia Southern and Youngstown State, but there has been little interest from major programs. At 5 feet, 8 inches and 165 pounds, his size could be a factor.
Maybe another big year will bring some of the major Division I-A programs around?
“Sometimes it’s hard to look and see I’m not getting D-I offers,” Trinidad said. “I know I work hard in the weight room and off the field. That has a little bit to do with it. I’m determined to score each play. …
“I think if I put up more yards than last year that should help with the recruitment, and playing all 10 games and staying healthy and putting on more weight, that should help.”
North Suncoast rushing leaders
Through two weeks
Player, school Rush Yds TDs
Ricky Trinidad, Mitchell 16 399 5
Ja’Juan Story, Nature Coast 16 322 6
Isaac Bailey, Nature Coast 29 317 5
Dimon Bagwell, Wesley Chapel 17 180 3
Brian Beeker, Springstead 30 140 1
Austin Jackson, Gulf 7 134 1
Eddie Musto, Mitchell 12 131 1
Tyrail Hawkins, Hernando 9 117 2
Alvin Delaine, Hernando 23 114 2
Jordan Betancourt, Bishop McLaughlin 11 110 1