Steve Hayes’ heart sunk as he watched from afar. Trinity Christian was no longer the football program he knew, the program he coached, the program he lived and breathed.
Then came a call from the school’s administration inviting Hayes to return to the school where he had more than a decade of success. Hayes was eager to accept.
“TCA has always been a place I’ve loved,” Hayes said. “I’m super-excited to be back.”
During his previous tenure from 2004 to 2014, the Trojans were a perennial playoff team in the top TAPPS classification. They had just one losing season in his 11 years, and even then, TCA won a postseason game.
His rehiring ends the Mike Singletary experiment. The school made a splash hire with the legendary Hall of Fame linebacker in 2018, but proceeded to win just one game in the past two seasons combined. Singletary parted ways with TCA after a winless 2019 campaign.
“We have some extremely talented kids and competitive kids. I think we’re really going to surprise some people.”Steve Hayes
Hayes will try to turn around a program that has dropped 33 of its past 36 games. TCA’s combined record since Hayes was last on the sideline is a dismal 12-45.
“It’s distinctly different,” he said. “I feel like they should be a whole lot more successful than they have been.”
After TCA, Hayes coached in Enid, Oklahoma, for four seasons. Last year, he was an assistant coach in Henderson. One of his first staff hires at TCA was defensive coordinator Toby Trotter, a former assistant coach at Highland Park and in the college ranks.
The challenge of rebuilding the TCA program has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely curtailed the team’s workout schedule. Besides extensive videoconference meetings, Hayes said the coaching staff created a video library of basic offensive and defensive schemes for returning players.
There have been limited opportunities for group workouts in-person, too, as allowed by TAPPS with various safety protocols. The team began practicing in pads in late July, and is scheduled to open the season on Sept. 25 against Pittsburg.
Despite the inherent obstacles, Hayes is optimistic. Besides his 70-man varsity roster, there are 26 freshmen in the program, and he expects those numbers to continue rising.
“We have some extremely talented kids and competitive kids. I think we’re really going to surprise some people,” Hayes said. “The potential and the resources are there to experience the same kind of success.”
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