Trey Mitchell isn’t complaining about not being able to play in this week’s Touchstone Energy North-South game.
The Lexington linebacker and teammate Tyler Schadewald were selected for the all-star game in Myrtle Beach, but are focused on Saturday’s Class 4A, Division II championship game against Northwestern.
“Either way it would be a blessing, but definitely glad to be playing for a state championship,” Mitchell said.
The Wildcats are in the championship game for the first time since 2000 and are looking to win a championship for the first time since 1950.
Mitchell has played a key role as one of the team’s defensive leaders and captains. He has bounced back after missing the first two games of the season with a shoulder/neck injury.
Despite that absence, Mitchell led the Wildcats with 136 tackles, including 10 for loss. He earned all-region honors and the spot in the North-South game.
“He is a tremendous defensive player,” Lexington coach Josh Stepp said. “He is a smart kid and what he does for us can’t be put into words. When we go back and watch film, you see what kind of plays he makes. We make a bad call and he gets us out of it.”
Lexington defensive coordinator Will Newell said Mitchell’s absence was felt even though Ken Oliverra, who leads the team in sacks, did a good job filling in for the senior.
Newell said Mitchell’s return elevated the play of the defense. The second-year coordinator, who’s also the linebackers coach, said Mitchell’s ability to cover the pass, explosiveness and his knowledge of the game separates him from other linebackers he’s coached.
“He can overcompensate for things and has makes plays he has no business being in the ballpark on,” Newell said of Mitchell, who leads Lexington linebackers with six passes defended.
Mitchell had 14 tackles last week as Lexington knocked off Spartanburg to advance to the title game. With Northwestern relying on the short passing game, Mitchell and the rest of the linebackers will play a big part in pass coverage.
Mitchell, who’s listed at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, hasn’t drawn much college interest and is yet to receive an offer. That’s something that Newell and Stepp can’t understand. Newell, a former All-American linebacker at Newberry, said Mitchell has the tools to be successful on the next level.
“It makes me a little upset that he isn’t being recruited more. He is going to be a steal for whoever comes in late and gets him,” Newell said. “It’s not just his athletic ability but his brain that sees things before they are happening.”
Stepp agreed and said college coaches sometimes are worried about measurables more than performance.
“He is not a combine kid, who will wow you what a bunch of numbers with a 4.4 40-yard dash,” Stepp said. “He is a football player. You cut the film on and he can flat out play football. He is sideline to sideline with the best of them and one of the best defensive players I ever coached.”
All games at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday
Class 4A, Division I
Dorman vs. Fort Dorchester, noon
South Pointe vs. Midland Valley, 3 p.m.
Class 4A, Division II
Lexington vs. Northwestern, 6 p.m.
TICKETS: $10 and will be sold at Lexington High School on Friday during school hours. Tickets also can be bought at the stadium on the day of the game.
RADIO: 93.1 FM, online at www.lexingtonwildcats.com.
LIVE STREAM: All games this weekend will be streamed on www.nfhsnetwork.com for a fee of $9.95. Burch Antley, Stacey Hough, Emerson Phillips and Tyler Cupp will be on the broadcasts.