Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin (center) celebrates with staff and players after their 23-9 win against Cartersville in the Class AAAA State Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Wednesday, December 12, 2018, in Atlanta. (JASON GETZ/SPECIAL TO THE AJC)

Four Questions with Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin

Blessed Trinity won its second consecutive Class AAAA championship in 2018 and finished 15-0 to complete school's first undefeated season. Today's interviewee is Blessed Trinity head coach Tim McFarlin.

Tim McFarlin, Blessed Trinity head coach 

1. What is the legacy of the 2018 team? How was it different than the 2017 team as far as how you'll remember it? "The legacy of the 2018 group is 'chemistry.' That senior class played together from the fifth grade all the way up through our Junior Titan program and four years at BT. They're a close-knit group and they had a great awareness of each other on the field. As for the difference from 2017 to 2018, I really can't see much. It was more of a continuation from one year to the next due to the fact that we were a junior-heavy team in 2017. And, the strength of our 2018 team was in their leadership that extended way beyond the game field. Our seniors were exceptional at practice, in the locker room, in the weight room, in the halls of the school and when they were away from the school environment. For the most part, 2018 was an easy year for our staff because we had zero discipline issues and got to work with a group of young men who we trusted and enjoyed being around." 

2. You had a special group of seniors last season, particularly the foursome of J.D. Bertrand, Jake Smith, Steele Chambers and Ryan Davis, all four-year starters. What did those four mean to the school and the football team? Have you ever seen a group like that in your coaching career? "I would have to add J.R. Bivens and Alex Poma to that group, and all six have gone on the pursue athletics at the D-I level. I have seen other senior groups that were very similar during my coaching years, but these guys rank very high, if not the best. Their mark on our program is certainly significant, but they made an equal impact on so many other areas at BT. All of them carried a high GPA, and several led other sports teams at BT to championship runs." 

3. What's the scouting report on the 2019 team? "The scouting report for 2019 is somewhat a rebuilding year. We return a solid group of seniors who know what it takes to compete, and I've been very encouraged to see them take ownership of the team from day one in summer workouts. Our biggest challenge has been making the adjustment to a new defensive staff as we had to replace four of our five coaches. That transition has gone better than I expected, and the kids seem to understand the new system. Our offensive commitment to the run game is still the same, and I'm very impressed with the progress Elijah Green has made after missing most of last season with an injury. He looks as good as I've seen him, and our backup situation is taking shape. We return three offensive linemen from last season and will lean heavily on them while other young players take time to develop." 

4. How do you see your region this season? It's vastly improved since it was formed in 2016, as Flowery Branch joined it last season from Class AAAAA, and emerging contender Denmark started varsity football in 2018? "The biggest difference for us this year is the level of competition we're going to face in 2019. Our non-region is very tough with St. Pius, Benedictine, Woodward and South Forsyth early in the process. But the back end of the schedule has changed considerably, and just making the playoffs is now a challenge. Marist is always very tough. Flowery Branch returns a lot of players from last year's team that outplayed us and we were fortunate to get a win in overtime. Denmark is by far the most improved team on the schedule and looks much different than they did a year ago. White County and the Hall County schools are all on the upswing, so I think our region will be as competitive as any in the state this season. I don't see one or two teams having a lock on AAAA this year, and the number of teams that can win it all has grown tremendously. It should prove to be an exciting year." 

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