Those close to Trent know how much he’s missed the game he loves. Trent found it tough to watch from the sidelines last fall while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“It’s a great feeling being back,” Trent said. “You feel like you’re not letting your team down anymore. You feel like you’re going to have a successful season because the people you’ve played with your whole life are with you.”
Trent’s high school career has been riddled with injuries. He tore his posterior cruciate ligament his freshman season and missed a significant amount of time.
Despite so much adversity, however, he keeps getting back on his feet — an attribute Chiefs coach Cody Baugh said helped make him a leader of the team.
“All of the other guys on the field are looking for No. 8 to make a play,” Baugh said. “When he’s making plays, everyone’s confidence is rising. When he’s on the field, everyone feels comfortable about what’s going on. There were some times last year where we were one or two plays away from winning the game and everyone was looking around for Collin.
“He’s not the most vocal leader sometimes, but he leads by example. He does it the right way. He makes straight A’s and he takes every extra class that he can. His first priority is FCA and he’s all-around outstanding young man.”
The Chiefs had a rough season in 2018, going 1-9 — though their lone victory kept alive their 11-year winning streak against Hawkins County rival Volunteer. Three of their games were decided by one score, including a second-half rally at Morristown West that came up just short.
Trent takes over under center after Trey Courtney had some standout numbers transitioning to QB from wide receiver. Trent said he tried to help his longtime friend as much as he could but wished he had been throwing to him instead of coaching him.
“It was a good experience. I’ve known Trey since middle school and I’ve always known he could throw the ball,” Trent noted. “He’s just a great athlete. He really benefited the team last year. I don’t think we should’ve gone 1-9 last year, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
The Chiefs boast just 11 seniors on a hefty, 69-man roster and have depth and youth at many positions. Trent has plenty of options to throw to and get into space, and Jonas Leeper — the school record-holder in receiving yards — is a significant target.
“It’s great seeing all these young guys out here. It’s hopefully going to be a good future for Cherokee. The seniors are trying to be the best influence that we can be,” Trent said. “The atmosphere (inside Big Red Valley) is crazy when we’re good. For some teams, this is a long way to come and those bus rides are rough. My freshman year when we started 6-1, we had some good crowds.”
The Chiefs haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, but they have a favorable home schedule this season featuring four big games — against Morristown West, Volunteer, Daniel Boone and David Crockett — inside Big Red Valley. Their notable road games have them going to Sullivan South, Elizabethton and Tennessee High.
The Chiefs begin their season at home on Aug. 23 against nonconference foe Union County.