Stags begin preparing for Green Wave

  • Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dan Brown/Independent Berkeley coach Jeff Cruce said his defense would have to improve on their tackling fundamentals if it hoped to beat Summerville.

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The last time the Berkeley Stags beat Summerville, George Bush “43” was seeking election to a second term. Bruce Ellington was in seventh grade. And Andre Ellington was just a freshman.

John McKissick stood on the short side of 600 wins and was in his mid-seventies.

On Friday, Sept. 5, the Stags travel down Hwy. 17A for their annual matchup with the Green Wave. The nine-year winless streak is something Berkeley wants to end.

More importantly, the Stags are seeking to get back on the winning track after last Friday’s loss to Stratford.

Not since 2004 has Berkeley posted a “W” against McKissick and the Green Wave. The Stags have come close several times, but came away with no cigar, as the the saying goes.

A missed field goal cost Berkeley a win in 2010, in Jerry Brown’s last year at the helm of the football program.

Berkeley stands at 0-3 during the Jeff Cruce era, but if it’s any consolation, his predecessors didn’t have much luck against the legendary McKissick, either.

“We’ve had some tough luck over the years here against programs like Stratford and Summerville and we hope to do our part in reversing that trend this fall,” Cruce said. “We played well against Johnsonville. There are some things we need to work on like consistency and tackling on defense, but we’re getting there.

“This is a good team. We have the guys we want in the key slots. I like our chances. These will be exciting football games for the fans to watch.”

Berkeley fans are well aware of their futility against Summerville. Even in 2009, when Berkeley won the Class AAAA Div. II state championship, the 28-20 loss to Summerville stood as the lone blemish on an otherwise perfect season.

In other area games Friday, Timberland and Cross meet for their annual rivalry game.

In the past the game has stood as a stats stuffer for the Wolves as the Class A Trojans have never beaten their larger Class AA cousins.

Timberland has beaten Cross by a collective score of 146-18 since the two schools resumed playing in 2010.

Wedged into that time were a pair of state championships, Timberland’s in 2011 and Cross in 2012.

For the Wolves the game is something of a breather between Hanahan and Crestwood on Sept. 12 and two-time Class AA state champ Bishop England on Sept. 19.

For the Trojans there is no rest for the weary with C.E. Murray slated for Sept. 12 and Class AA rival Lake Marion on Sept. 19.

In 2013, the Trojans downed the Gators 29-27 for their first win against the school from Santee.

Coach Shaun Wright sees the early weeks of the 2014 season as a building process for his young team.

“They are learning on the job,” he said. “If we can keep these guys on track and bear the tough times we could grow into a contender this year. Getting the players and parents on the same page with our values is key, and from our parent-coaches meeting we are off to a great start as we had a standing-room-only turnout.”

Wright said scheduling the Class A defending state champions for their season opener was by design.

“Hunter-Kinard-Tyler has some of the best athletes I have seen on the 1A level since I have been coaching. Their tailback, quarterback, and wideout will have a say in a couple of all star games.

“They are as fast and athletic a team as I have seen.”

Wright said HKT compared to rival Timberland in their effort to make plays and get to the football.

“We have a mountain to climb, but why not start with the best?” he said. “Barring injuries, these next two weeks will show our young guys what commitment, dedication, and hard work means to a team. We will be better for it.”

St. John’s Christian Academy continues to gather their game legs under new coach John McCall.

Following the Cavaliers’ season opener in SCISA 8-Man football, SJCA hosts Greenwood Christian on Sept. 5 and travels to North Charleston on Sept. 12.

For McCall his goals for the early season are simple, have his players show progress in their development.

“We are working hard and the difference between this team now and when I took over back in May is amazing,” he said. “They are really starting to come together and play as a team.

“We’ll be competitive this fall, if nothing else.”

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