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Stocked with Lowcountry players, Newberry begins D-II playoffs

Newberry football

Former Ashley Ridge standout Romelo Doctor (22) leads Newberry into the Division II playoffs on Saturday. (Newberry Athletics)

With a starting lineup stocked with Lowcountry players, Newberry College will begin its quest for a Division II national football championship Saturday.

The 10-1 Wolves, who won the South Atlantic Conference title with an 8-0 league record, are a No. 2 seed in the 28-team bracket, and host No. 7 Tuskegee (8-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Newberry features seven former Lowcountry standouts in the starting lineup, including leading rusher Romelo Doctor, a 6-0, 210-pound senior from Ashley Ridge High School. Doctor has rushed for 631 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

Doctor's backfield mates are fullbacks Knox Butcher, a senior from Fort Dorchester, and Rashard Alston, a senior from Goose Creek.

Paving the way up front are senior tackle Tyler Stasky, a 6-10, 330-pound senior from Wando, and guard Bobby McNell, a 6-2, 300-pound senior from Timberland.

Baptiste Staggers, a 6-4, 230-pound junior from Fort Dorchester, has 24 catches for 260 yards and four touchdowns at tight end.

On defense, linebacker Rameak Smith, a junior from Woodland, has 42 tackles and an interception. Cornerback Rashaad Smith, a senior from Fort Dorchester, is second on the team with three interceptions and has 40 tackles.

The Lowcountry influence extends to the coaching staff. Head coach Todd Knight, now in his seventh season at Newberry, was once defensive coordinator at Charleston Southern under David Dowd.

Offensive coordinator Bennett Swygert played quarterback at Summerville and began his coaching career at Fort Dorchester.

If Newberry defeats Tuskegee, the Wolves will advance to play the Florida Tech/North Greenville winner in the second round.

Florida Tech handed Newberry its only loss, by 42-28 in the season opener. The Wolves defeated North Greenville, 29-28.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at (843) 937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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