Senior lineman Cole Kinnaird has been instrumental in Prairie View's 6-1 start as a two-way lineman.
Cole Kinnaird's role may change from week-to-week, but the senior lineman has been a major player in Prairie View's 6-1 start.
"Against Glenbrook and Riverfield, he played quite a bit of defense," Prairie View coach Bo Barton said. "Last week, we needed him more on offense. Austin Harper usually plays right tackle, but because of the matchup, he played more on defense against Trinity. We used a lot of three-man fronts and Austin is more of an outside linebacker type."
Meanwhile, Kinnaird spent the evening at right guard and right tackle, while seeing only 7-10 snaps on defense.
"We used Cole all night to match up with their big guys running the ball," Barton said. "We called on him to pull from the tackle position and we called on him to pull from the guard position. He pounded on them hard. It was really a good job on his part."
Keeping the ball on the ground 46 times out of 55 plays, the Spartans rushed for 222 yards in a 22-20 victory over Trinity Episcopal on Friday night. Kinnaird teamed with Caleb Tanksley, Mason King, Caleb Christmas and Gage Riles to help Prairie View grind out the victory over a long-time nemesis.
The hard-earned win made for a joyous postgame walk from the field to the locker room quarters.
"Trinity usually beats us. I can't remember us ever beating them," Kinnaird said. "It feels good to beat them, especially since they knocked us out of the playoffs last year."
Trinity won a closely-contested 32-26 decision over the Spartans in last year's MAIS Class 2A state playoffs.
"We missed a scoring opportunity that ended up hurting us last year," Kinnaird recalled. "We didn't want that to happen again this year."
After Trinity took a 20-14 lead with 8:50 remaining, the Spartans counter punched with a seven-play, 63-yard drive. Tanner Caldwell's 12-yard run tied the game at 20 with 6:25 remaining.
Flagged for breaking the huddle with 12 players and a false start, the Spartans ran the all-important 2-point conversion from the 13. Quarterback Hayes Crockett then found a diving Tanner Caldwell across the middle for the decisive score.
Trinity went three and out on what would be its final series.
Regaining possession at their own 21 after the punt, the Spartans drove all the way to the 1 while running the final 5:11 off the clock.
In the end, the Spartans used their depth on the line to wear the Saints down.
"Their big guys were pretty tired," Kinnaird said. "We could feel the difference toward the end. They only had 17 players, and I think one of them was hurt. But I was still glad when Tanner caught the pass on the extra point. We didn't want the game to go into overtime."
With the Saints dropping down to Class 1A this season, there is no chance of the two teams meeting again in the postseason. Nonetheless, it was a special win for the Spartans.
"No doubt, this was our biggest win of the year," Kinnaird said. "It may have been our biggest win since I've been at Prairie View. Tanner thinks it was."
For Caldwell, the Trinity game brought back memories of the 2015 season opener against Central Private.
"This is the biggest win we've had since I've been here," Caldwell said Friday night, "but I think Central Private is the best team we've beaten, so far."
Kinnaird remembers the Central Private game vividly, which is hardly a surprise.
"We beat them 7-6 on the muddiest field I've ever seen," Kinnaird recalled. "It came down to the extra point at the end of the game, and Lucas (Crockett) kicked it through. Then our bus broke down on the way home, and we had to wait for somebody to bring us a part. It was daylight by the time I got home."
Ironically, the Spartans return to action Friday night at Central Private.
A three-year starter, Kinnaird earned first-team MAIS All-District 6-2A acclaim last season as both an offensive tackle and defensive lineman. As a sophomore, Kinnaird was a second-team All-District pick after helping the Spartans win their first conference championship since 1998.
While he is certain to add to his list of individual awards, Kinnaird's only goals are team-oriented.
"We had all weekend to savor the win over Trinity, but it's not going to make our season," Kinnaird said "The state championship is what we want. Central Private comes first, though. Then we play River Oaks for the district championship."
As the Spartans gear up for the stretch run, Kinnaird will continue to be a key component in the team's success. Wherever he may be called upon to contribute.