Stags to run and gun against Johnsonville

  • Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rob Gantt/Independent Stags coach Jeff Cruce calls QB Joseph Dress the best he's ever had.


The countdown is about complete.

Instead of months and weeks, only days remain until the Berkeley Stags kick off their 2014 season on Friday night, Aug. 22 against Johnsonville.

While the rest of the Lowcountry will be scrimmaging at the Sertoma Classic, the Stags will start their regular season. Berkeley plans to hit the ground running.

And gunning.

“We’re going to be fast off the ball, fast with the plays, we’re going to run, make the play, hear the whistle and line up to run it again.,” said Stags Coach Jeff Cruce, who begins his fourth year at the Berkeley helm.

And while each year he expects big things, Cruce remains cautiously optimistic about the Stags good fortune heading into the fall.

“This is the best team I’ve had,” Cruce said. “And I said that last year too. This team is good. We’re big, we’re fast, we can run the ball, and we have a very smart quarterback.”

The Stags held their own against Goose Creek and North Augusta during a three-way scrimmage last week and Cruce was happy with what he saw.

“We scored coming out of the gate,” he said. “We marched down the field against Goose Creek and scored early. Then we put a ten-play drive together and should have scored on that. We still need work, but this summer has been about accentuating the positive and we’ve looked very good lining up against opponents. We just need more game time, and the Johnsonville game will help us a lot.”

Against Goose Creek and North Augusta, the Stags scored five times over the three-team scrimmage, gave up four touchdowns, rushed for 224 yards and passed for 167 yards.

“But it’s a scrimmage,” he said. “Focusing on the positive, we played well. It was hot out and there and the day was long, but we played well.”

Cruce said Johnsonville could present problems for the Stags with their wishbone offense.

“Not many people run the wishbone offense these days and Johnsonville runs it well. We just have to keep getting better at the little things and take care of our own business and the rest will take care of itself.”

The Stags have been working toward this moment on Friday night since Dec. 2013. Cruce said his team is ready to play and should be competitive.

“We should be able to mix it up with everybody this fall,” he said. “Our defense has really stepped it up over the summer, and our offense is fast and experienced. We aren’t waiting on anybody. As soon as the referee blows the whistle we’re snapping the football.”

While Cruce called quarterback Joseph Dress the best quarterback he’s ever had, including the time at Hanahan and Cane Bay, the Stags coach had high praise for backup quarterback Darius Douglas.

“Joseph has had a very good summer, but Darius has been outstanding back there. He can throw the football but he can also run very well.”

The Stags also look to be strong at the younger levels as he expects both the JV and B teams to be strong.

“We have some players coming up from the younger ranks from the middle school that are going to be very good players one day very soon,” Cruce said.

There is no rest for the weary this fall as Stratford, Summerville, Cane Bay and Timberland wait in the wings between now and the start of the Region 8AAA schedule on Oct. 6 against Beaufort.

Kickoff at Bonner Stadium/Gerald Moody Field is at 7:30 p.m.

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