- November 17, 2022
The throws were placed exactly where they had to be.
It was Oct. 30 and the Sarasota High football team was trailing 14-6 in the third quarter of a road game against Lakewood Ranch High. The offense had not done a ton all night, but suddenly, there was a ray of hope: an 85-yard touchdown pass to junior wideout TJ McKay that hit him in stride. It cut the lead to 14-12 after a failed two-point conversion. Then, after the teams traded field goals — we're in the fourth quarter now — there was another: a 68-yard bomb to senior Terrell Pack.
Boom. 21-17 Sailors. Game over. Sarasota wins.
A good comeback, but what makes it remarkable is that the Sailor under center, the player throwing these darts all over the field in crunch time, only started playing football this summer.
Lance Trippel, a junior, is a baseball player — a catcher/third baseman, meaning he's got a strong arm. He's always liked watching football, he said, just never thought about playing it himself. That is, until he took a weight training class with Sailors Coach Brody Wiseman. As Trippel recalls it, Wiseman was throwing a football around with some students toward the end of a particular session and noted Trippel's arm strength. Wiseman told Trippel he should come to summer workouts and see how it goes.
"I didn't know what to expect," Trippel said. "Everyone was great to me. They helped me figure everything out."
Trippel impressed enough to make the team, and with the Sailors in a mid-season rut, Wiseman turned to Trippel. Since becoming the starter, Trippel has led the Sailors (5-4) to a 3-1 record, with lone loss coming against undefeated Manatee High. The Sailors have averaged 22.7 points a game during that span. They averaged 18.8 points a game before Trippel's promotion, though they were also shut out twice.
The new guy has taken to the position well.
"I was a little nervous [before his first start]," Trippel said. "Coach Wiseman really helped. He told me, 'Just drive the car. Don't let the moment get too big.'"
Trippel said he's starting to develop chemistry with his receivers, which showed against Lakewood Ranch. The first touchdown pass, especially, was a thing of beauty: a ball with perfect arc that landed in McKay's lap. Wiseman used the play to promote his quarterback on Twitter.
"Somebody get [Lance Trippel] on a watch list," Wiseman wrote. "Kids who have never played the game before aren’t supposed to make throws like these. I don’t know where his ceiling it at, but I don’t think we’re close to it."
There's still work to be done, of course. Trippel said while he's getting more comfortable each game, he's still adjusting to throwing within a pocket and having to move to avoid pressure. In time, he'll get there. That's stuff that can be learned. You can't learn how to make deep throws like Trippel can, though. That's innate. I can't wait to watch the progress of Trippel, who said he will continue to play both baseball and football, into next season.
Not that anyone has given up on 2020 yet. There's one week left in the regular season before the playoffs begin, and Trippel wants to cross off a major goal of his.
"I really want to beat Riverview, man," Trippel said. "That would be huge for the program, for everyone."
Oh, by the way: The Sailors and Rams (6-1) play at 7 p.m. Friday at Sarasota High.
It should be a fun one.