Fort Dorchester’s football team presents a mountain of a challenge on any night these days.
For Berkeley, which will have not played in three weeks when the two teams kick off at FDHS Sept. 20, the path to victory against the third-ranked Patriots will be a steep climb. There doesn’t appear to be any room for missteps.
“Berkeley has to take care of Berkeley for us to have a shot,” BHS coach Randy Robinson said. “What worries me is having three weeks off. You worry about turnovers. You worry about execution. It’s kind of like starting over. You worry almost like you would if it’s the first-game.”
The Stags (2-0) last played on Aug. 30, crushing Ashley Ridge 40-0. Quarterback Tre Minor and receiver Hakeem Meggett hooked up for three touchdowns (80, 12, 14) and Minor also rushed for another score.
Running back Kortez Heyward added a 64-yard touchdown scamper and running back Reggie Campbell chipped in a 9-yard touchdown run.
Hurricane Dorian washed out a Sept. 6 home game with West Ashley and the Stags had a bye scheduled for Sept. 13.
“It’s been frustrating,” Robinson said. “We wanted to play. It’s disappointing we couldn’t get something worked out last week. We’re practicing and working hard but the kids like to play too.”
The margin of victory over the Foxes was somewhat surprising, given the word on Berkeley entering the season was the Stags lost 32 seniors and were projected to fall off a little bit.
What pundits may have overlooked is Berkeley’s returning senior class, also more than 30 players.
“We’re beating that drum hard,” Robinson said. “A lot of people thought because we lost 32 seniors – and a lot of those are doing well at the next level – we’d be down. I just kind of challenged the seniors. To make believers out of them you’ve got to go out and win football games. Our JV has been pretty good. I told them it’s time to go win on Friday nights.”
Fort Dorchester is 2-0 heading into a matchup against Wando on Sept. 13. The Patriots edged Berkeley 21-20 last year in a barnburner and have won 36 of their last 37 against Lowcountry foes.
“Looks like they’re better than they were last year,” Robinson said. “We’ve got our hands full. Physically on defense, they’ve got guys everywhere. There are not a lot of weaknesses. When they get stopped on offense, it’s been them stopping themselves. On special teams, they’ve got a guy who kicks it out of the back of the end zone. They’ve got the bases covered.”
The Patriots didn’t give up a touchdown in wins over Glynn Academy, Ga., and Cane Bay to start the season. The 49-0 win over Cane Bay on Aug. 30 was the Cobras’ first shutout loss in six years.
“They’re traditionally a 4-3,” Robinson said. “They run more odd this time around. It’s just a matter of getting more speed on the field.”
The Stags have been potent on offense through two games, though. They knocked off Stall 56-12 in the season opener.
Minor has seven touchdown passes and over 600 yards passing. He began the summer as the backup to Willie Chisolm but Chisolm has been out with an injury.
Chisolm has returned to practice and wears a brace.
“For Tre to step in and play the way he has is impressive,” Robinson said.
Lineman Hunter Powers has been a key, too, for the Stags.
“He’s graded out high every week,” Robinson said. “We’ve been able to play him at guard a good bit, even though he’s more of a center at the next level, because Bryson Hearn has stepped it up at center.”
Defensively, the Stags have been what the coaching staff believed they would be.
“We went into the season thinking we’d be pretty good on defense,” Robinson said. “Those guys are getting it done. Jake Dunn has made a ton of tackles and Jorden Miller has stepped it up at inside linebacker. It’s hard not to praise the secondary for the job they did against a guy that’s going to play Division I at quarterback.”
After Fort Dorchester, the Stags host Summerville High School on Sept. 27.