Nile Trent was always targeted to become a standout high school football player. After all, Trent was a starter from the minute he walked into high school as a freshman. He had all the tools – speed, good size and good knowledge of the game. Plus, Trent was also an excellent student. He seemed like the perfect package.
But adversity struck Trent almost instantly. As a freshman at Hudson Catholic, Trent didn’t handle being thrust into a prominent role right away and struggled playing against kids much older. As a sophomore at Hudson, Trent suffered a serious ankle injury that forced him to miss most of that season.
Trent then transferred to St. Anthony, where he had to sit out the mandatory 30 days required by the NJSIAA and the association’s transfer rules, so Trent was held back once again. It seemed as if it was always something.
“I had to endure so much,” Trent said. “But I stayed with it. I guess it’s because I had such love for the game. I also come from a strong football family.”
Trent’s father, Carlton, was a fine football player at Lincoln during his heyday in the 1980s. Trent also had some cousins who played at Marist.
“It would have been very difficult for me to walk away,” Trent said. “It definitely did get tough, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I never thought about quitting. I always thought I would get my chance.”
A lot of other kids in Trent’s position would have bagged it and walked away.
“I know a lot of others who would at the first sign of trouble would have headed for the hills,” St. Anthony head football coach Sean Fallon said. “Nile was not going to be deterred. He might have had a negative experience and could have easily been turned off by it, but he’s a tough kid. He stuck it out.”
“I just had to stay humble and wait my turn,” Trent said. “I knew it would come. I don’t quit.”
As the 2012 season was set to begin last weekend and the Friars set to face Glen Ridge in the season opener, Trent had a spot in the Friars’ backfield. But no one could have ever predicted what Trent would produce in his first game.
Trent caught three passes for 146 yards, including a 99-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Derek Sims. Trent also had five carries for 145 yards, including a 92-yard run.
All totaled, Trent had 291 yards of total offense in only eight touches and scored two touchdowns of 90-plus yards in the Friars’ 32-19 victory.
It’s safe to say that Trent’s performance was pretty incredible. It’s not known whether a Hudson County football player ever had a TD reception and a TD run of 90-plus yards each in the same game.
For his efforts, Trent has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week. Trent is the first honoree of the 2012-2013 scholastic sports season, culminating in the presentations of The Hudson Reporter Male and Female Athletes of the Year sometime in June, 2013.
Fallon has been impressed with the way Trent has progressed.
“He just keeps getting better and better,” Fallon said. “I always knew how good of a football player he was. I knew he could play. He just needed a chance. He needed exposure to our weight room and he was there all the time during the offseason. In fact, he had perfect attendance. We did conditioning at 6 a.m. and Nile was there every time. Now, his body has completely changed. He’s grown into a man’s body and it’s helped. It’s been a big positive for us.”
Trent always had faith in his talents.
“I always knew I could do it,” said the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Trent. “It was pretty tense going into the game, because we have seven backs and all of them can play. All get different packages, so it was going to be tough for me. I had to contribute in my own way.”
When the Friars had the ball on their own 1-yard line in the first quarter, holding on to a slim 7-0 lead, Trent knew that he was going to get the ball thrown his way.
“I think they thought we were going to run the ball up the middle to get a little yardage down there, but I knew I was going to be open. The ball came over the linebacker and I just outran everyone. I was very surprised. I didn’t expect to see that much green [meaning open space]. It was amazing that it went for 99 yards.”
In the second quarter, the Friars had the ball on their own 8-yard line.
“Again, we were just looking to get the ball out of there,” Trent said. “We ran a counter and I continued to cut it back. Once I got past the linebackers, I just outran them again.”
“He made the moves,” Fallon said. “We were backed up and I think they were looking to score on us if they got the chance.”
Trent didn’t allow that to happen.
“I just kept them honest,” Trent said.
Trent said that he’s going to try to do even better this week as the Friars play host to Belleville. It’s hard to believe he could do better after last week’s sensational outing.
“It wasn’t a bad day at all,” Trent said. “It’s going to keep me motivated for the rest of the season. It shows that hard work pays off and that good things will come to those who wait.”
Fallon just adores Trent’s demeanor and attitude.
“He’s a quiet kid, a hard working kid,” Fallon said. “He was not going to be deterred by his negative experiences. He kept a level head. He’s just a great kid who works his tail off. He’s a humble kid. I think it helps that his family is involved and he’s close with his family. I can’t say enough about him. He’s also an honor roll student, so he does well in school. He’s a good character kid and a good fit for our program.”
Trent said that he takes a lot of pride in his school work.
“My parents really encourage that in me to become a true student/athlete,” Trent said. “I have just as high expectations in the classroom as I have on the field.”
Trent has a goal in mind.
“I’d like to play football in college,” Trent said. “I’m willing to go wherever I get an offer. I don’t have one school in particular.”
But Trent is a perfect example of someone who had some tough times in high school athletics, who persevered and remained patient and finally got his chance to shine.
“I’m a senior,” Trent said. “This is my last chance. It was do-or-die for me. I had to do it now.”
Sure looks as if Trent is certainly making the most of his final opportunity. – Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.