Catawba football notebook: Trexler sharp on special teams
By Bret Strelow
The Catawba notebook …
Thomas Trexler takes a clear-cut approach to kicking: As a punter, he holds the ball with the same care with which he’d handle a plate of glass.
Trexler, a true freshman from Wilmington, has emerged as Catawba’s primary specialist. He kicked a 42-yard field goal and averaged 37.7 yards on six punts in a 24-7 victory at Mars Hill last Saturday.
Trexler, who placed three punts inside Mars Hill’s 20-yard line, has focused on improving his drops since arriving at Catawba.
“Just about any professional instructor will talk about a glass table,” Trexler said. “You have your hands around your chest area ó not all the way out, in a little bit ó and place (the ball) out over your foot. Glass table is the biggest key I think of when holding the ball.
“I do a lot of drills, catching the snap, literally walking 20 yards just with a ball perfectly straight out, all out and extended, imagining walking with a table underneath my hands.”
John Fitz and Ben Hepler, members of Chip Hester’s staff at Catawba, were coaches at New Hanover High School early in Trexler’s time there.
Catawba hadn’t attempted a field goal this season until Trexler took the field for the final play of the first half against Mars Hill, and his successful try gave the Indians a 17-7 lead. Senior Cory Darnell and sophomore D.J. Gill also have experience on special teams.
“Thomas has got great range, and he has started to exhibit some of the consistency we’re really striving for,” Hester said. “I think the competition he has with the other specialists has been a good thing, and it’s something they all know is ongoing.”
COMING ALONG: Catawba has collected three straight wins since suffering a 14-7 home loss to St. Augustine’s on opening night. The Indians, ranked 20th in the latest AFCA poll, will play their third consecutive road game when they face Newberry at Setzler Field on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“We’re starting to figure out what kind of offense we are, what identity we’ll have there,” Hester said. “Our defense is playing at a speed that we like.
“You lose the first one to a team you’re favored against, that puts your back against the wall. We talk to our guys about that. When you’re injured and backed into a corner, you’re either going to go cower down in that corner or you’re going to fight your way out of it.”
STINGY APPROACH: Catawba ranks sixth nationally in rushing defense (67.8 yards allowed per game), ninth in total defense (238.2 yards per game) and 13th in scoring defense (14.2 points per game). The Indians average 10.8 tackles for loss per contest, and Tarleton State (11.8) is the only team in the nation with a higher number.
Mars Hill rushed for 39 yards on 24 carries and threw one interception against Catawba.
“When you play defense with speed and play defense with aggression, good things happen and you make guys make mistakes,” Hester said.