by Rob Gantt
Randy Robinson’s first test as the Berkeley High School football coach could be the three-plus hour bus ride to the Upstate and the time he has to think about who his new team is about to play.
He’s returning to face his old team on Friday and though he admits he’s 100 percent Berkeley Stag, he watched every player on Daniel High School since they were in recreation ball. Those connections are still there.
He knows the Lions will be fired up because it’s the team he developed. Daniel is near Clemson.
“What we’re going to have to deal with is they’re going to play as hard as they’ve ever played to prove to me they’re a good team,” said Robinson, who led the Lions for a decade. “I left a great situation with them and I’m sure those kids worked hard in the offseason. They want to prove to me they’ve put together a great team.”
Robinson’s teams brought home six region titles, going 97-31 overall, and developed a slew of players destined for the NFL. Before that, he was Daniel’s defensive coordinator for nine seasons under Allen Sitterle and was the architect of two state championship defenses in 1995 and 1998.
As the head coach, Robinson guided the Lions to the championship game in 2013 before they lost 24-21 to Myrtle Beach on a game-winning field goal.
Robinson was hired by Berkeley in April to replace Jeff Cruce, who was 25-32 in five seasons. The Stags were just 3-7 in 2015 and missed the playoffs.
Daniel also hit a low point last season, going 4-7 and losing to South Pointe in the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs.
Robinson said the Lions should be back to themselves in 2016.
“They’re out of the swoon,” Robinson said. “They had the bad year last year. They’re on the upswing.”
Robinson’s former defensive coordinator, Jeff Fruster, took over the program. He was on the state championship teams in 1995 and 1998 before playing at Presbyterian College.
“We tried to develop some leaders there just like we’re developing leaders here,” Robinson said. “It’s going to be a great game for the fans but it’s going to be tough for me because I’m 100 percent a Berkeley Stag. We’re going to go up there and get this team ready to compete.”
The game had been scheduled before Robinson made the leap to the Lowcountry.
The Stags return 10 starters, including six on offense. Senior quarterback Darius Douglas accounted for well over 2,300 yards of total offense and has some of his most potent weapons back in receiver Daveon Moore, running backs R.J. Robinson and Austin Miles and the versatile DJ Chisolm, who even played some quarterback last season.
Senior left guard Elvis Shannon and junior right tackle Rahn Moore are returning starters.
On defense, senior end Aerimon Gipson, senior linebacker Daylon Singleton, senior defensive tackle Zach Simmons and junior Israel Mukuamu are returning starters.