Berkeley Stags football coach Jeff Cruce might be seen along the sidelines sporting a pair of Tom Cruise “Top Gun” reflecto-shades before the 2014 season progresses very far.
Everything about the Stags offense this year is geared around speed.
“We can’t go fast enough,” Cruce said following their scrimmage with Battery Creek on Thursday, Aug. 14. “We have to go faster... faster.”
That’s a football snapped every 18 seconds.
Eighty plays run a game.
These Stags feel the need for speed.
“We need to be in shape for this and a scrimmage like this goes a long way in seeing where we are,” Cruce said.
In their final tune-up before their Aug. 22 tilt with Johnsonville, the Stags turned on the afterburners and gave fans a preview of what to expect this fall.
A warning though, a visit to the concession stand and you might miss something big.
“We want to run as many plays as we can as fast as we can,” Cruce said. “We can never go fast enough.”
That means defenses better be in shape.
The Stags moved the ball downfield at such a pace, the chain gang couldn’t even keep up.
“As soon as the whistle blows to start play, we’re snapping the football,” the Stags coach said.
Joseph Dress, the pilot for this Top Gun Stags fighter jet, ran for a touchdown and threw for two more, as Berkeley scored at will against an unprepared Battery Creek.
“That pass to D.J. Whitherspoon was a dart,” Cruce said.
With the ball on the Dolphins 30-yard line, Dress dropped back to pass. Finding no open targets, he tucked the ball to run, rolling out to his left.
As he reached the sideline, Dress spied an open Whitherpoon sprinting across the back of the end zone and fired a 35-yard frozen rope that the Stags wide receiver snared off his shoe tops.
“That’s throwing back across the body, off the wrong foot,” Cruce said. “He’s got the arm strength to make that play.”
Dress also ran for another touchdown before giving way to sophomore Darius Douglas, who scored on his first drive under center. Douglas scored on a run up the middle from 18-yards out.
“Darius played very well and he’s going to quarterback the JV team,” Cruce said. “We could have the best JV team we’ve had at Berkeley in a while.”
On their first possession following a Battery Creek punt, Leon Simmons capped a Berkeley 45-yard drive to get the scoring underway for the Stags, a five-play drive that took all of 90-seconds.
“We’re already setting up the next play as we’re running up to the ball,” Cruce said. “I’ve been fast at Hanahan and Cane Bay, but never this fast.”
Later in the second quarter, Dress also found Keron Reid in the end zone for his second TD pass of the night.
“This was a good scrimmage,” Cruce said. “We needed this time on the field badly.”
With Johnsonville waiting on Friday, Aug. 22, and Stratford and Summerville standing in line immediately afterward, the Stags need to strap on their flight helmets.
“Summerville is going to be very good this year,” Cruce said. “It will be very interesting to see how we do against them.”