For nearly three quarters, Berkeley’s high-powered offense was as sloppy as the playing conditions. Once the rain subsided, the Stags got untracked and scored 35 points over the final two quarters to pull away from Cane Bay, 42-7.
“I challenged our seniors. We weren’t playing Berkeley football,” Stags head coach Randy Robinson said. “I know it rained and that affected us a little bit offensively, but we’re better than what we showed in the first half. Our guys got it together in the second half and played.”
The victory, coupled with Goose Creek’s loss to Stratford Friday night, clinched the region championship for Berkeley. Robinson has led the Stags to three straight conference crowns.
“A lot of people questioned us coming up to 5A,” said Robinson. “We won it two years in a row in 4A and our kids took that personal. All summer they were lifting weights and people were calling them out, saying we couldn’t play in 5A. It’s satisfying seeing them getting it done tonight.”
Cane Bay grabbed the early momentum with a spectacular special teams play. Dee Francis broke though the line and blocked a Berkeley punt before Danny Davis scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 25 yards for the game’s first score.
Unfortunately, that was all that went the Cobras’ way on the night. Cane Bay lost backup quarterback Alex Mart to an injury on the team’s second offensive possession, which forced freshman Xavier Mitchell-Brown into duty the rest of the way.
“They’ve got a ton of talent and a bunch of guys you’ve got to try to stop. We had a good game plan for them. What we do defensively is predicated on keeping the ball out of their hands,” said Cane Bay head coach Russell Zehr. “I’m proud of our kids, proud of the way they played. We gave up a ton of points, but the final score is not indicative of the way we played.”
Keshawn Wicks got Berkeley on the scoreboard late in the first quarter with a 14-yard touchdown run, his first of three on the night. The senior totaled 142 yards on 27 carries.
The passing game took off after halftime for the Stags, as quarterback Eric Tuttle and receiver Dervon Pesnell hooked up twice for scores. Tuttle was 12-for-21 passing for 203 yards while Pesnell had six catches for 105 yards.
Both teams will wrap up their respective regular seasons next week. Berkeley hosts Goose Creek before entering the postseason as a top seed.
“We want that home field all the way through the playoffs. That’s the focus right now – to keep everything rolling,” Robinson said.
Cane Bay (4-5) has plenty on the line next week when they travel to James Island. The Cobras are locked in a three-way tie for second place with Stratford and Goose Creek, all with identical 2-2 records.
“The biggest thing is to keep playing and keep getting better. Anytime you go down there, it’s going to be tough,” said Zehr. “We’ve got a lot to play for. Hopefully we’ll be good enough to get in the playoffs, and if the right people beat the right people, we could end up second. We’ll see what happens.”