The departure of the country’s No. 1 player leaves impossible shoes to be filled at Berkeley Prep. Throw in the fact that the Buccaneers lost 13 other players to graduation, including quarterback Destin Nichols, and things become even more difficult.
“Guys are really hungry,” said freshman quarterback Brad Mayes, who may be the hungriest of the bunch. “Last year everyone’s positions were kind of set, but now you could be the starter one day, and the next day you aren’t starting. There are a lot of position battles.”
Berkeley Prep saw a stellar 2011 season (12-1) falter with a 17-9 loss in the 3A state semifinals. Even with the graduation of three-way star Nelson Agholor, their expectations are unchanged.
“Our expectations are to win a state championship,” Mayes said emphatically. “We have a lot of spots to fill, but the spots are being filled by good people who could have started last year.”
Filling one of those many spots is Mayes. The junior varsity starter last season, he saw limited playing time in five varsity games and missed quite a bit of time this spring after being called up to the varsity baseball team (Berkeley Prep baseball was eliminated from postseason contention on May 11th).
“It feels good to be back,” Mayes said. “The first couple days were different since I was out for a while. I had to get the feel of throwing a football again after playing baseball, but that didn’t take long and it feels like full-time football again.”
In addition to Mayes, the Buccaneers will rely heavily on 2013 RB Chris Williams who was used as a compliment to Agholor in the backfield last year and rushed for 402 yards (a 6-plus yards per carry average).
Rising sophomore two-way starter Ben Novella and rising junior Matt Miller will ease the loss of Agholor on the outside as, likely, Mayes’ top targets.
Somewhat of a concern coming in to the spring was what kind of time Mayes would have in the pocket. There were questions across the offensive line, questions that Mayes says have been answered.
“Our offensive line is big. Guys are working really hard and they’ve really surprised me,” he said.
Rising senior right tackle Rob Paine will anchor the offensive line composed of three juniors, one sophomore and one senior, himself.
For the Buccaneers, the spring game is a chance to see where they stand. Mayes says that head coach Dominic Ciao has stressed focusing on fundamentals against Admiral Farragut tonight.
“We don’t plan on showing too much, but we’re definitely still going to try to win the game,” Mayes said of the Bucs’ game plan. “We are working on getting mechanics down for everyone. We want to do everything right, fundamentally. We want the defense make plays. We want to strap up and hit somebody. We want to strap up and block somebody. We just want to play football.”
Berkeley Prep players to watch in tomorrow’s spring game:
Chris Williams, 2013 RB
Brad Mayes, 2015 QB
Ben Novello, 2015 WR/DB
Matt Miller, 2013 WR
Rob Paine, 2013 OL
Christian McWilliams, 2015 DB
George Pennington, 2014 LB/FB
David Wright, 2013 DT
Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleBennettBCP or email him at Bennett@BigCountyPreps.com