The Bishop England football team has been so successful the past two seasons that its biggest losses have come off the field.
The team went 13-1 and won a Class AA state title in 2011, and in May of 2012, 14 football players walked across the stage during graduation ceremonies, including all-state selections Andrew Bunch, Cameron Swails and Danny Croghan.
Last fall, the team went 13-1 and repeated as state champion. Coach John Cantey might have good reason to cringe at the 2013 graduation ceremony as half of his 40-man roster walked across the stage.
“Literally, it was half the team that graduated,” Cantey said. “We lost seven starters on both sides of the ball. We lost some great players, including Griffie Loy and DeAngelo Stephenson. We lost our quarterback and some offensive linemen. It really added up.”
But success breeds interest. There were 50 players out for the first day of practice, and the Bishops still have talent. The key the past two seasons was Cantey’s ability to shuffle players into new positions and get the most out his talent.
There are 14 seniors on this year’s squad and each player has heard the same words the past two summers.
“I told this year’s group the same thing I told the seniors last year,” Cantey said. “I told them this is their team now. Last year is over. We’re no longer wearing our state championship T-shirts. That’s a thing of the past. This is no longer 2012.”
Three of this year’s seniors have been through the battles, so they were naturals when it came time to naming captains. The players are Reed Fosberry, Nick Shiver and Chandler Sambets.
Sambets, who plays the line, is ready to excel.
“Being a senior is still beginning to sink in. I’ve always been vocal to the team, but now I think everyone listens a little more,” Sambets said. “Leading this year isn’t a problem for me at all. I’m one of those natural-born leader type guys where if I’m in charge, I’m making sure my team is successful. Me and all the other seniors hear it from the previous two classes bragging about who’s the best. We know we can be as good, if not better, than they were. We just have to work hard enough, and it’s our jobs as seniors to motivate the team toward our goal.”
My goal is that the team is confident, so I will do everything I can, on every play, of every game, of my last season to win.”
Fosberry just might be the team’s X-factor. He is the only player on the team who was a starter in 2011 and ’12. He’s been a star on defense for the past two seasons but is also a candidate for the quarterback job, along with Jack Wilson. In past years, Cantey has moved players around and has been successful. This move shouldn’t be any different.
“If the team needs me to play quarterback, I will play quarterback,” said Fosberry who has tallied 160 tackles, nine interceptions and eight fumble recoveries the past two years. “Wherever the team needs help most, that’s where I will play.”
The expectations were high when Fosberry arrived on campus four years ago. His brothers, Martin and Mikell, were standouts on the gridiron. Martin was a linebacker who graduated in ’08, and Mikell was a quarterback who graduated in ’10.
Reed Fosberry won’t be the last player in the Fosberry pipeline to the Daniel Island school. His brother, Lawton, is a junior and was a starting linebacker last fall.
“He plays wide receiver on offense, and if I play quarterback, that means I will be throwing passes to him. That would be fun.”
Shiver split time at wide receiver and running back as a junior and will spend all his energy running the football this season.
“There will be more weight on my shoulders this year, but I am ready for the challenge,” said Shiver, who tallied 238 yards rushing and 204 receiving last fall. “It comes down to hard work. Like coach says, if you do the work, winning will take care of itself.”
Doing the work is also a good way to prevent senioritis.