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Trinity rusher has continued to chase his dream

More news about: Trinity (Texas)
The rust has been falling off of Trinity's Jay Foster all season, and this past weekend was his best rushing outing yet.
Trinity athletics photo

By Brian Lester
D3sports.com

Jay Foster is playing football this season, and it’s a much bigger deal than what it appears to be on the surface.

He started out at Trinity in 2014 but appeared in just one game. After that, he walked way to take care of family obligations. He never played a down of football over the next two seasons.

That could have been the end of the story of Foster, at least as far as athletics is concerned.

But it wasn’t. On Saturday afternoon against Austin, Foster played in his sixth game of the season, and it was his best one yet, rushing for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns, with his 84-yard touchdown run being the third-longest run from scrimmage in school history. His performance helped the Tigers topple the Kangaroos 49-35.

He’s up to 346 yards for the year and has scored four times. The stats aren’t bad, but it’s not about the numbers. It’s about a chance to play the game he loves.

“The season has been real fun. All of the guys on the team treat me like family,” Foster said. “I feel like I never left. Whenever I’m on the field, I just give everything I have.”

He’s playing the game with passion and purpose, and his head coach, Jerheme Urban, is impressed with what Foster has accomplished in a short period of time.

Foster spent the early part of the season getting used to the game again, testing himself against Trinity’s defense in practice each day, and the time and effort has paid off.

“We’ve seen him continue to grow each week. He’s gotten more comfortable and has played very well,” Urban said. “We’ve seen the confidence grow in him, too, and have seen the rust continue to fall off. He fits in that running back rotation well.”

As impressive as his on-field success has been, what means more to Urban is that here is a player who could have given up his dream rather than continue to chase it. It’s an inspiring lesson for others.

“They can see when life hits, when adversity hits, they can look at Jay and see he never gave up football,” Urban said. “Just because he had other things to take care of, it didn’t mean he cashed in his dreams. It says a lot about his character.”

Foster said the toughest thing about his return to college football was simply getting used to playing again. He loves the camaraderie he shares with teammates and coaches and the environment at Trinity.

“All of these people here, they want to see me do well. It’s a great feeling,” Foster said. “I have great support all the way around, and because it’s such a small university, it’s basically like being at home.”

Urban first learned about Foster through one of his former high school teammates, who was a coach at the school Foster played for in Ferris, Texas.

“He spoke so glowingly of Jay, and when you look at the film, you see his immense talent,” Urban said. “Different people have different paths, and Jay has worked hard to get back to this opportunity, and we’re excited about it. Everyone always knew the potential was there.”

Foster was asked to point to something he’s improved the most on compared to years past, and his answer is interesting.

“I’d say the mental part of it,” Foster said. “I understand things more and see things before the play happens. I realize what is going to happen next and react to it full speed.”

Although the season ends this week, the chance to be on the field has meant the world to Foster.

“I’m sure it means even more to my coaches and teammates and family that I am doing something positive,” Foster said. “I’m so thankful I get to continue to play the game I love.”

Urban is glad he’ll have Foster back next season. In fact, Trinity will return most of its talent. It’s a reason to have high hopes for 2018.

“We’re going into the offseason sooner than we had obviously hoped to, but we are going in motivated,” Urban said. “We want to take the next step next year and compete for a conference championship.”

Johnson continues to meet his expectations

Richard Johnson is having another stellar season at East Texas Baptist.

Two weeks ago, the Tigers wide receiver tied his personal record for touchdown receptions in a season (13) in a 42-28 win over Sul Ross State.

On Saturday, he broke the school record for touchdown catches in a season, snagging his 14th of the year to help the Tigers crush McMurry 66-21 and elevate them to a seventh win for the third consecutive year.

Johnson has 51 catches for 932 yards, and while there have been moments here or there he wishes he could have back, he’s thrilled with his success.

“There are a couple of games I wish I had back from early in the season, but I’ve been performing at the level I was expecting to for the most part,” Johnson said. “I’m not satisfied, but I understand that I have played decent.”

Johnson is only a junior, and his stock has been rising since his freshman season when he had only four catches for 96 yards. He’s gone over 900 yards in receiving the last two years, and with one game left, he has a chance to reach the 1,000-yard milestone.

“Coach has harped on me about finishing strong, and for me personally, every week is a chance to show up and show out,” Johnson said. “That keeps me going. I don’t want to have a drop-off in my play.”

Being a captain also pushes him to be at his best.

“It’s a little bit of a blessing and a curse,” Johnson said. “There are days where you might be hurt or tired or have something else going on, but being a captain you know you are held to a certain standard. I know that I have to perform every day and come out with my best effort every day.”

Johnson is hoping to earn All-American honors this season. If he doesn’t, it’s something he’ll strive for next year.

“My goal is to be an All-American. That drives me,” Johnson said. “And my goal next year is to perform to the standard of being an All-American, either again or for the first time.”

Regional notes

  • It was his first start at quarterback, and it sure was memorable. Carl Robinson III was under center for the top-ranked team in the nation and had a hand in four touchdowns in Mary Hardin-Baylor’s 51-20 win over Louisiana College. Robinson, who has appeared in five games this season, missed only two of his 19 passing attempts and threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a score as he helped lift the Cru to at least a share of the ASC crown and its 24th consecutive win. Tevin Jones shined defensively, reaching a career-high in tackles (15). He has 58 this year.
  • Records fell in Southwestern’s 70-6 win over Howard Payne. The Pirates set records for total offense, points, points in a half and average yards per play. It all added up to Southwestern’s best performance of the year. Averaging 11.3 yards per play, Southwestern rolled up 701 yards and dropped 49 points in the first half. Two players went over 100 yards rushing, with Frederick Hover churning out 201 and scoring two touchdowns. Elijah Smith rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown. They helped fuel a ground attack that produced 483 yards and seven scores. Hover also threw for 141 yards and a touchdown.
  • Birmingham-Southern won only one game last year. This season has been a different story for the Panthers, who secured their victory Saturday with a 20-17 overtime win against Millsaps. A game-winning kick by Ryder Andrews from 26 yards out was the difference as the Panthers improved to 3-6. It was one two field goals Andrews made. Zack Seay played a key role in the win as well, rushing for a career-high 1000 yards. He also scored his first career touchdown. Seay is only a freshman and has rushed for 137 yards in all.
  • Talk about a great day for the McGonigal family. Chad and Cory both turned in strong performances on the defensive side of the ball in Hendrix’s 70-42 win over Rhodes. Cory picked off three passes to set a record for most interceptions in a game and also broke the record for interception return yards (136). Chad didn’t break any records, but he did come up with eight tackles, including one for a loss. They are only sophomores and have both played pivotal roles for the Warriors. Chad has 54 tackles and three interceptions while Cory has come through with 40 tackles and has picked off three passes. One other notable performance was the school-record 10 extra points Sandy Burkes made. The old mark was eight.

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com and wrote Around the Great Lakes for D3football.com from 2012-14. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2014 columnist: Justin Goldberg
2013 columnist: Andee Djuric
2012 columnist: Kyle Robarts
2008-11 columnist: Jason Bowen

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