Most of the time the Eagles scored this year, they went for a 2-point conversion, but Friday night was a different story.
Ellison senior kicker Cayden Triggs worked all season to earn head coach Todd Wright’s trust in his leg and it all paid off in probably the most important game of Triggs’ life — the rivalry game against Killeen, which the Eagles won 30-20.
“Going into the game, I didn’t know if I’d kick anything,” said Wright, “so I’m proud of that group.”
Triggs’ struggles came from having to learn how to kick a different kind of ball.
“It was really hard,” he said of his seasonlong journey at the position. “I’m a soccer player, so kicking a football is a lot different than it is a fútbol.
“I just kept working on it with coach (Niles) Dunnells and I like this now. I can see myself doing this later if I get the opportunity.”
Wright prepared Triggs and the kicking unit all week long, just in case the Eagles were up 12 points and needed a field goal to reach 15 — the margin of victory that would have kept Ellison in the playoff race.
“I played that scenario in my head all week,” admitted Wright. “Do we have the confidence to kick it?
“And the good thing is, there at the end, I would have.”
The Eagles only went for a 2-point conversion once the entire game, after their first touchdown, and trailed Killeen 7-6 in the first quarter.
After the Kangaroos scored again in the second quarter to take a 14-6 lead, Ellison answered with a touchdown to pull within 14-12.
Instead of going for 2 and the tie, Wright sent in Triggs for the extra-point.
“I felt it in my stomach a bit, I was a little nervous,” said Triggs of pivotal kick. “But I got my head together and I made it.”
“It feels good, I’m glad they finally trusted me to put some points on the board and trust in our line.”
After seeing Triggs make the kick and the line protect the ball in practice last week and in the game, Wright gained a whole new confidence in his special teams.
“Not only have we missed them in the past,” said Wright, “but we’ve had them blocked, so that whole unit struggled.”
Triggs’ confidence throughout the game continued to grow, knowing that his coach and team trusted him enough to send him out at key moments, including the team’s first field goal attempt of the season from the 20-yard line.
Triggs made that and two other extra points to cap a perfect night.
“Coach Wright doesn’t really say much when I’m doing good,” Triggs noted. “I didn’t hear anything this game, so I guess I was doing good then.”
After watching the commitment and work Triggs put in over the season, Wright hopes he walks away proud.
“I hope, for his sake, that he feels better and that he accomplished something,” Wright said.
“Because I’m sure there were times he thought in his head about quitting when he wasn’t doing well, but he was one of the kids that stuck through it.
“There were times earlier in the year that field goals would have helped us keep our momentum, but we didn’t feel like we were able. So I’m glad and I’m proud of him.”
This season was Triggs’ first and only year on varsity, but Friday night’s victory will be the game he always remembers.
“This game is probably the best I’ve played and probably one of my best games with these guys,” he said. “I felt this game and it was a close one.
“I love these guys, even though I don’t show it because I don’t go to practice with these guys — I’m just a kicker — but I love these guys so much. They mean the world to me.”