Holy Trinity is one big family

Football team includes players from Bishop Gibbons, Catholic Central
Catholic Central players at Schenectady High School.
Catholic Central players at Schenectady High School.

SCHENECTADY — For four years now, it’s been a routine. The bus pulls up behind Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School, and the young men from Catholic Central unload and head to the fieldhouse to prep for football practice.

With their arrival, Holy Trinity is complete.

“It’s normal to us,” Bishop Gibbons senior fullback/linebacker Cameron Kiser said. “We get together, and we get after it.”

Just getting together has always been an extra task for the Catholic Central guys on the Holy Trinity team. Bishop Gibbons is Holy Trinity’s home base, some 17 miles away from their high school in Troy.

“It makes the days long, but with these guys, it makes it fun,” kicker Luke Clement, a senior from Catholic Central, said of all those trips down Route 7 and back. “We get out of school and we get ready to go to practice. We love football. If we want to play, we have to do this.”

Nine of them this season have contributed to a 35-member Holy Trinity Pride team that will face Skaneateles in the state Class C championship game Friday at 6 p.m. at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

“The challenges they face every day are real,” Holy Trinity head coach John Barber said. “I can’t say enough about the dedication they have for this program. They accept everything we do.” 

Holy Trinity (11-1) has never done more in its brief history, winning its first league title, Section II title and a pair of state tournament games this season. 

“We’re not two separate schools forming together,” said Clement, who was 4-for-4 on PATs and booted two touchbacks in Saturday’s 28-23 state semifinal win against Burke Catholic. “We’re just a bunch of guys coming together to get something done.”

Young men from the two schools have combined to play football since 2014, which was Holy Trinity’s inaugural season. In 2014 and 2015, they were joined by players from Saratoga Central Catholic.

Bishop Gibbons and Saratoga Catholic first joined in 2013 to combat low player numbers, and were known as the Sainted Knights.

“Early in the season, coach said we’ve got to come together,” sophomore quarterback Joe Tortello, who attends ND-BG, said. “He hasn’t said anything about that since. He hasn’t really had to. You’d never guess we’re from different schools.”

Barber has had players from the different schools purposely mesh for preseason workouts and various team activities since he began his run with the Sainted Knights. He’s been more than pleased with the on and off the field results from that bonding method.

“Their culture is a little different than the Bishop Gibbons culture, but the mixing in has gone  unbelievably well,” Barber said. “Credit goes to the kids.”

The Pride displays team unity before each games’ national anthem, when the players line up and face the flag, each placing a hand on the shoulder of a teammate.

“It’s a family,” said CCHS senior Jake Cross, a two-way end and Holy Trinity’s defensive MVP in its two state tourney wins. “We’re all brothers. Coach doesn’t treat us any different than anyone else.”

In a way, though, they are different  in what they have to do to play. 

“It shows the dedication they have,” Tortello said. “They just want to play football.”

Eight of the nine Catholic Central players are seniors, including punter and backup quarterback Nick Pacini, offensive lineman Tom Thayer, defensive linemen Joe Forster and Andrew Vogt, two-way end Trevor Maloney and key secondary reserve John Paul Loughlin. Junior linebacker Zeph Cooper completes the cast.

“I’ve been doing this since ninth grade,” Cross said. “I took the bus for two years and then started driving. You have that half-hour [trip] every day. Sometimes you have to get going early. Is it worth it? Definitely if you love football. Definitely.”

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518=395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz onTwitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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