Before the first official practice began in August, the Mead Mavericks knew they were in for a special season.
“We definitely knew this year was going to be our best chance to win it all,” Mead’s Trey Ward said.
Ward, one of the seniors leading the team, was looking to lead by example with his play on the field and help Mead accomplish the goals it set out to do this year. One of those goals was to win the Class 3A Northern Metro League title and potentially run the table in the regular season.
The Mavericks would accomplish that goal but ultimately fell short in the playoffs with a quarterfinal loss to Green Mountain. Despite the early exit, Ward did his part to lead the Mavericks, and his prowess as a defender led him to being named the BoCoPreps.com defensive player of the year for the 2019 season.
“It was a great season,” Ward said. “Every practice was high intensity and it was so much fun all year long. Those Friday nights under the lights, especially at home, meant a lot.”
Ward’s impact in the secondary was felt all season. The versatile defensive back showed the ability to not only make plays in coverage, but he could also step in and help stop the run with his physical play-making tackles.
Having a knack for getting to the ball resulted in Ward finishing with seven interceptions, putting him in a tie for second-most among 11-man programs in all of Colorado. He also had nine passes defended to give him 16 plays on the ball on the back end for the Mavericks.
“It was a lot of instinct,” Ward said. “A lot of it, too, was experience. I’ve been in (the defense) last year and knew what the quarterback was looking at. Where I lined up, he always looked at me, and I would just bait him every time.”
The big numbers this year for Ward came after he recorded eight interceptions in his junior season. He recorded at least one interception in four of the final five games of the season in the stretch run that resulted in the league title.
In addition to making plays in the passing game, Ward finished with 59 total tackles and averaged just over five per game. Against teams who ran the ball more, he showed an ability to fly to the play and help the front seven.
“Our big emphasis this year was that we had to run to the ball and gang-tackle,” Ward said. “Being a little undersized on the defensive line, we knew we would have to help them out a little bit. We knew all season long if we run to the ball and gang-tackle, it will be hard for teams to run and pass the ball on us.”
But what made Ward stand out the most was his play in the marquee games on the schedule for Mead. It seemed the bigger the game, the higher his play stepped up. It started with a win over Class 4A Skyline where he recorded his second interception of the year. In a 34-7 win over Holy Family, Ward recorded seven tackles, got his third interception of the season and recorded one of his two blocked field goals.
The biggest regular season game was the finale with Frederick in a battle of unbeaten teams with the league title on the line, and Ward finished with a season-high 11 tackles and an interception against offensive player of the year Jacob Green that resulted in Mead winning 27-20.
More big plays came from Ward in the two playoff games. His first playoff game with Harrison saw him record his first multi-interception game with two in a 41-7 win, and despite losing to Green Mountain, he was second on the team with 10 tackles and got his final interception of the season.
“The atmosphere (in those games) is something different that every player should have a chance to experience,” Ward said. “It makes you play better. The hype and the atmosphere really boosts your confidence.”
With his high school football career finished, Ward has shifted his attention to basketball with the Mavericks, where they hope to have another special season. In the meantime, he is looking at his options to play at the next level. His first offer came from Chadron State in Nebraska earlier this month and more may come on the horizon.