James Tringali to begin 2012 as St. Norbert’s starting QB
By Kyle LoJacono
James Tringali is used to being the No. 1 quarterback on football depth charts.
He ran first team while an eighth-grader at John Long Middle and became the starter at Wiregrass Ranch High halfway through his freshman year. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound signal caller was the first-string quarterback for 33 games with the Bulls, so it was strange for him being third on the depth charts for the entire 2011 season.
Tringali, who started playing flag football at age 7, was the No. 3 quarterback last year as a freshman at St. Norbert College, a Division III program in De Pere, Wis. He got into three games in 2011, closing out the final series or two.
“It was different,” Tringali said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be competing for a starting job because we had two senior quarterbacks ahead of me, so I came in with the mindset of just learning from them. I’d never had to do that before, but I had an open mind with it. Both of those quarterbacks are great guys, so that helped the process.”
His efforts and patience have paid off, as Tringali was named the Green Knights’ starter during spring practice.
“One of the things that helped me earn the starting job in the spring is I got to start 33 games in high school,” Tringali said. “A lot of kids only get to start 10 or 15.
“Once the season ended, my goal was to win the starting quarterback job,” Tringali added. “The first part of spring, the reps were equal and everyone had an equal chance. The last couple days, I was with the first teamers. Once that happened, I just started to work on getting chemistry with those guys. That’s really important for a quarterback, to have good relationships with the team, including the defense.”
Tringali said the top two quarterbacks from last season were very receptive to helping him prepare to take over the reins once they graduated.
“Watching them really helped a lot,” Tringali said. “They were two different types of quarterbacks. (Kevin Hansen) was more of a pocket passer and the starter last year (Mike Fabrizio) was more athletic. I learned a lot watching how they both did things at practice and in games.”
Tringali said the physical workload was similar to what he experienced at Wiregrass Ranch. The biggest difference was the mental preparation for college games. He estimated he spent more than twice as much time in meetings and watching film than when he was in high school.
Another big difference is the expectation level to win at St. Norbert.
Wiregrass Ranch was in its third year when Tringali took over under center in 2008. The Bulls went 1-9 that season, but increased their win total each campaign until 2010 when the squad was 6-5 to clinch the program’s first district championship and playoff berth.
Statistics were not kept before Tringali’s sophomore season, but he totaled 3,219 passing yards on 277 completions and 23 touchdowns during his final three years in high school, all program records.
The Green Knights went 7-3 last year, finishing third in the Midwest Conference. They have won at least seven games the last 13 seasons, averaging more than eight Ws since 2006.
“It’s a different kind of pressure from Wiregrass when we were trying to build something,” Tringali said. “There was a lot of pressure put on you by yourself to bring a program somewhere it’s never been. At St. Norbert there’s a very rich tradition.”
St. Norbert coach Jim Purtill said he has been pleased with Tringali’s physical and mental progression and predicts he will take additional steps as a leader as he spends more time running the first team offense.
“The starting quarterback is always a leader on the team,” Purtill said. “Typically leadership falls into the arms of the upperclassmen; juniors and seniors. If you have a young QB starting, team leadership is still in its early phases. Obviously with good performance will come success. With success will come confidence from the individual and from the team itself. Those things will lead to leadership.”
Tringali, who is studying business, has plans to do more than just continue the program’s triumphant ways.
“There have been a lot of wins, but in terms of conference championships they’ve been pretty down,” Tringali said. “It’s been only one the last four years. The team goal is to win the conference this year. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back on both sides of the ball.”
St. Norbert opens up the 2012 season in Dublin, Ireland against John Carroll University Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m.