Expectations are high for a talented Benedictine football team
Last season ended heartbreakingly for the Benedictine football team as the Cadets were edged out in the state semifinals in a 42-35 loss to Jefferson.
Georgia commit Malaki Starks ran for 300 yards and four touchdowns in the game for Jefferson, but the BC offense was up for the challenge as quarterback Holden Geriner was 19 of 29 for 244 yards with two touchdown passes. Starks intercepted Geriner’s pass in the end zone to end the game.
The loss in the semi-finals will be a motivator for a cadet team that returns a strong core of talented players. Geriner, who signed on for Auburn, is back for his senior campaign, along with Justin Thomas, the senior slotback who was named Savannah Morning News Offensive Player of the Year last season. Za’Quan Bryan, who had a strong second season, will play a bigger role as wide receiver with the graduation of Trent Broadnax, who now plays at Duke.
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Holden Sapp, a senior linebacker with offers from Army, Middle Tennessee State, Wofford and Lenior-Rhyne, believes the Cadets’ defense, which allowed 26.75 points per game last year, will be much improved.
âWe’ve got a bunch of seniors coming back and we’re going to be more physical and communicate better,â said Sapp, who had team-highs with 102 tackles and 11.5 sacks last year to win the first-team All- Greater Savannah Honors. âLosing this game to Jefferson is going to make us want more this year. We have a lot of leadership and our goal is to win the state.â
Senior Matt Kromenhoek, second student Bryce Baker and senior Evan Scarbrough join Sapp in a talented linebacker squad.
Thomas and Bryan should start at the cornerback, with Hunter Dunn in free safety and Ben Hollerbach in strong safety. Junior Cole Semien will anchor a front line with Tyler Brown and sophomore Jeremiah Thomas.
The cadet offense averaged 39 points per game last season, and BC should once again light up the scoreboards. Geriner, the 6-3, 215-pound four-star prospect, completed 68% of his passes for 2,770 yards with 25 touchdowns and three interceptions. He added 115 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
âIt’s hard to beat those numbers, but we actually think Holden can improve from last season,â said BC coach Danny Britt. âHis continued leadership will play a big part in that – and with the experience he has, I think he will be able to use his feet more, get the ball in and run it more when he needs it. “
He’ll have a plethora of weapons including Bryan, who had 45 catches for 710 yards and five scores, while adding 292 yards and a rushing touchdown. Thomas is back as a versatile slot man after 651 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns with 35 receptions for 693 yards and seven other scores, as he racked up 25 total touchdowns.
Sophomore Ashley “Ack” Edwards takes over as the starting running back with the graduation of the eminent LeShon Brooks (now at Alderson Broaddus University). Dunn and Baker will also rotate, said Britt.
âThis will be a fun final season for our senior class,â said Geriner, who signed up for Auburn in February. âWe have high expectations after last season, and we have a lot of playmakers in our offense. Za’Quan is going to be a big asset. He loves the game, and has that speed and that ability to go up and get the With. Justin’s return, the defenses won’t be able to focus on just one guy. “
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The offensive line has five returning seniors including Drew Morin, Shayne Strickland, Henry Hale, Brian Johnson and center Nyle Rehman.
Britt may be the only coach in America to have two quarterbacks with Power Five offerings on his roster. Sophomore Luke Kromenhoek, the younger brother of senior linebacker Mac, didn’t throw a pass last season. But the 6-4, 185 pounds has come to the attention of college recruiters after a strong performance in 7v7 action and various camps over the summer. He received an offer from the state of Florida in June.
âWe’re going to give him some reps as a quarterback, maybe some as a receiver and as a defensive back and on special teams,â said Britt. “Luke is a special player and he can do a little bit of everything.”
Georgia Public Broadcasting released its Class 4A preseason Top 10 on Tuesday, with British Columbia ranked No.5 behind Bainbridge, Carver Columbus, Jefferson and reigning State Champion Marist at No.1.
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The Cadets are entering their 12th season with Britt at the helm. He recorded a 106-24 record during his tenure, including state championships in 2014 and 2016. Britt has a career record of 138-46, including his time at Calvary Day.
The Benedictines are set to be battle tested by playoff time after an out-of-region schedule that includes Burke County, North Oconee, Wayne County, Ware County and Columbus from Miami, who will travel to face the Cadets at the Memorial Stadium August 27.
âWe are looking forward to this season,â said Britt. âNormally we set goals right in front of us, from one game to the next. But losing in the semi-finals last year has changed things, and our goal is to reach the league game. go through this challenge of a schedule that we have and come out as the best team possible. “
Dennis Knight covers the sport for the Savannah Morning News. Contact him at Dknight@savannahnow.com. Twitter: @DennisKnightSMN