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Stewart Picks up Honors as #7/8 Trinity Football Reaches Bye Week

Stewart Picks up Honors as #7/8 Trinity Football Reaches Bye Week

SAN ANTONIO – The nationally-ranked Trinity University football team has completed its non-conference schedule and will spend the upcoming bye week getting ready for the start of Southern Athletic Association play.

The Tigers have opened the season 3-0 after last week's 52-14 victory over Texas Lutheran University. It marks the second game this season in which the team scored 50+ points, having also defeated Sul Ross State University 55-7 in the season opener. Sandwiched between those two high-scoring games was a top-10 matchup against Wheaton College (IL), who was ranked eighth in the nation at the time. Wheaton hit a 42-yard field goal to tie the game at the end of regulation, then the Tigers blocked an extra-point try in overtime to take a 17-16 victory.

NCAA III Rankings: D3football.com and AFCA

Trinity is ranked in the top 10 in a pair of NCAA III national polls heading into the coming week. The American Football Coaches Association released its first poll of the season, slating Trinity in the eighth spot; while D3football.com's latest poll saw Trinity hold steady in the seventh position for the second straight week. Trinity received a first-place vote in the D3football.com poll and holds a spot just behind two other Texas schools: University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in fifth and Hardin-Simmons University in sixth. In the AFCA poll, Linfield College (OR) is one spot in front of Trinity instead of one spot behind in the D3football.com ranking.

Honors and Accolades

BJ Stewart (Shreveport, La. / Woodlawn) provided a huge spark in last week's game, scoring kickoff return and punt return touchdowns to lead Trinity to a 52-14 win over Texas Lutheran University. Stewart took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a score, then had a third-quarter punt return for a 75-yard touchdown. For his efforts, he was named the SAA Special Teams Player of the Week, as well as snagging a spot on the D3football.com Team of the Week. Through last week's games, Stewart leads the nation in yards per kickoff return (56.8) and is 10th in NCAA III in yards per punt return (19.3). He finished with more than 200 all-purpose yards against Texas Lutheran and he is now 15th nationally in that category as well.

From the Coach's Office

Head Coach Jerheme Urban had plenty of thoughts about the team's start to the 2022 season, as well as the team's approach to the bye week and the start of SAA play.

So Far in 2022

"As we head into this bye week, one of the first things that comes to mind is 'what a difference a year makes'! This time last year we were heading into our bye week down a game due to COVID, still dealing with all of the COVID protocols, and trying to break in a new stadium during that time of uncertainty as well. While our guys last year did a tremendous job weathering that storm, this year has been a breath of fresh air to say the least! Not only did we wrap up our three game non-conference home stand with a 3-0 record, but our guys have been able to experience incredible crowds every week, fueled by incredible pre-game atmospheres on the lawn outside the stadium. I am not sure, but the Wheaton game quite possibly could have been the biggest regular season crowd I've seen at Trinity in 20+ years. It has been incredible to be able to once again have a normal training camp experience and three outstanding home crowds.

That energy has definitely been felt and appreciated by the guys on the field, and I'd like to think that the fans have been rewarded with some fun and exciting play from our side of things as well. This past weekend's game vs TLU had huge splash plays in the special teams game, which was recognized this week with BJ Stewart being named the SAA ST's player of the week, as well as the D3Football.com special teams returner of the week. Unfortunately, we've also seen him have a punt return touchdown called back in week one, as well as two other really big returns called back due to penalties...which is an area that we are continuing to work on here in the bye week. Our frontline guys on both punt and kick return teams truly believe they can collectively score on every play and are playing with the necessary play clocks for that to happen, but we just need to clean up our technique in some areas to help ensure that we keep being successful in our returns. Additionally, we've seen some big punt and kick blocks from our block teams as well, and all in all I am really proud of our special teams performances."

Looking Ahead

"As for our offensive and defensive approach during this bye week, it's my job to try and thread the needle of balancing our efforts to clean some things up in our overall execution on each side of the ball while also trying to get our guys healthy for a really competitive conference slate. We played the TLU game down a good number of starters on both sides of the ball, and found a way to win against a very good Wheaton team while being down a handful of our more experienced, and explosive leaders on the field. With that adversity also came the opportunity to develop some of our younger players, and you cannot replace the experience that they gained in those games- especially in the top-10 battle with Wheaton. 

So we'll have another two good days of work this week, cut them all loose for the weekend, and come back on Monday ready to prepare for our conference opener at Hendrix. Not only is it our first game of conference, but it's also our first road game of the year, so we will definitely have to have good focus when we come back if we want to have a chance at starting out on the right foot in SAA play."

Looking Ahead – Bye Week and Hendrix

The Tigers will enjoy a weekend off in Week Four, before returning for the start of conference play. The start of a new month will signal the start of conference play as Trinity travels to Hendrix College (AR) for the SAA opener at noon on Saturday, October 1.