Monday, August 5, 2013
At the start of last season, Bishop England football coach John Cantey fielded the same questions as he did Friday morning during the Battling Bishops' first official practice.
“Is there more pressure this season because you're defending a state title?”
“Who will your starting quarterback be?"
“How will you deal with losing so many key players to graduation?”
And, Cantey answered them similarly. “It's a 2013 team, and that's how we see it,” he said. “I know we're going to get everybody's best shot, but really, we're just focused on getting better.
“Repeat, 3-peat, all that stuff really doesn't fall into our vocabulary at all.”
He's no Bill Belichick, as far as media relations, but what else is he supposed to say? The reality is 20 seniors graduated, both possible starting quarterback options have question marks and you can't just do everything the same from the previous year with different personnel and expect the same results.
Cantey is a master of adjustments. When his starting quarterback and primary source of offense at the time, Nick Theos, was taken out of commission for several weeks with a high ankle sprain, Cantey adapted. Other capable players assumed larger roles and the playbook was subject to revisions to make way for new starter Kevin Herbst. Herbst, by the way, was the most valuable player of the state title game and Theos scored a touchdown to help the Bishops repeat as 2A champions.
Nick Shiver, Reed Fosberry, Jack Wilson and Hudson Little are among those who must step up this season.
Fosberry and Wilson are battling for the starting quarterback position. A key requirement: being able to run the option.
Shiver tallied the second-most receiving yards, fifth-most rushing yards (6.3 yards per carry average) and led the team in interceptions with six last year.
Little, a junior offensive lineman, has garnered a great deal of major Division I interest, including Georgia, South Carolina, NC State, Clemson and Georgia Tech.
Defensively, the Bishops held their opponents to 14 points or less 10 times – of 14 games. “We'll establish a solid defense, and we'll get back to where we were,” Cantey said. “Defense is our priority.”
Establishing championship form isn't easy, but it's not unfamiliar territory for Cantey. “It's going to be an education for these young guys,” he said. “They don't realize how much we're going to get from other teams. We're going to have to practice harder than normal.”