When Randy Robinson broke the plane at Berkeley High School in the spring of 2016, one of the first things he noticed was how talented his first group of sophomores was.
They went on to lead the way as the Stags won 32 games and three region championships in Robinson’s first three seasons.
That group just walked out the door in June and 13 had plans to play college football.
The 2019 season is almost like starting anew in some ways, especially offensively. Word on the street is the Stags might not be the team they have been. In 2018, Berkeley was 11-2 and made the third round of the playoffs.
“I don’t know if they’re hearing that or not but I’m telling them that every day,” Robinson said. “Everybody is after us now. They hear it from me constantly. It’s like I told our JV kids: Two years in a row they dominated. Now they’ve got to prove it on Friday nights. There is plenty of motivation.”
New starting receivers Solomon Butler, Hakeem Meggett and Eric Green are eager to prove they can fill the shoes left behind by DJ Chisolm (MTSU) and Dervon Pesnell (Campbell).
Kortez Heyward is the new starter at running back, replacing Old Dominion signee Keshawn Wicks, and Willie Chisolm takes the keys to the offense from Eric Tuttle (North Greenville).
“A lot of those guys want to prove we can get it going and keep it going after losing all those seniors,” Robinson said. “That’s a plus for us.”
Willie Chisolm won a quarterback battle with Trey Minor in the preseason but Minor will begin as QB1 against Stall on Aug. 23 with Chisolm out with a foot injury.
“As Trey gets more first-team reps, he’s going to get better,” Robinson said.
Chisolm has a similar skill set to former Stags quarterback Darius Douglas (Charleston Southern), who was a dual threat.
“We’ve got to improve up front and be able to protect the ball if we want to be able to do what we want to do,” Robinson said. “We’ve got some questions to get answered.”
The offensive line is anchored by returning starters Hunter Powers at right guard and Deandre Ferguson at left guard. More starters heading into the season opener are left tackle Timothy Cooper, center Bryson Hearn and right tackle William Coaxum.
Additional skill players are running back Jermaine Myers, running back Luke Gadsden, fullback Reggie Campbell and receiver Jakhi Willis.
On the other side of the ball, inside linebacker Jake Dunn is a three-year starter.
“He’s the glue,” Robinson said. “He’s smart. He knows what everybody is doing and gets everybody in the right place. He’s priceless.”
The big man up front is Jaquez Cancer at noseguard. More starting linemen for the season opener are defensive end Raylen Arrington, defensive tackle DeAdrian Desaussure and defensive end Shane Walker. Additional defensive linemen are Jaleen Thompson, Keshawn Middleton and Jayden Broughton.
Joining Dunn on the second level as starters against Stall are Ty Haynes, Jay Snow and Marcel Jackson. Jorden Miller and Jaylen Ravenell are more linebackers.
In the secondary, Whalik Boyd and Myles Walker are corners while Steven Graham is in at safety. Marcel Jackson can drop back into the secondary too along with Da’Von West.
On special teams, Roy Brown is the kicker and punter. RJ Miller is the long snapper and Kyle Gill the holder.
After Stall, which Berkeley crushed 69-12 last season, the Stags travel to Ashley Ridge (Aug. 30) and hosts West Ashley (Sept. 6).