CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — It’s year two for Robert C. Byrd under head coach Bruce Carey as the Eagles made it to the semifinals of the state playoffs in 2012 following a 9-1 regular season.

“Football is football, the kids want to be successful and they’re willing to work to get there, just like last year,” Carey said. “But last year we had a lot of kids with a year under their belt in terms of starting. This year, we don’t have that – they’re going to have to learn as we go.”

It’s junior all-around talent Ben D’Annunzio that will pick up an even larger role for the Eagles this season. He brings the threat to score any time he touches the football.

Garrett Cullen/MetroNews

Running back Ben D’Annunzio leads an RCB team looking to build off of a semifinal run in 2012.

“He has real good speed, real good vision, and if we can just get him open, he’ll be a player all of the other teams will have to watch out for — and that opens up the rest of the offense for everyone else,” Carey said.

D’Annunzio’s versatility will be utilized not only at running back, but at receiver and quarterback, at times, also. Last year, he put up over 1,400 yards on the ground and 14 touchdowns.

But it’s a whole new group of players, for the most part, that will be relied upon to score points in 2013 for Carey’s club — something that makes it difficult to project just how far this year’s team could go.

“We have to get better,” Carey said. “I’ve seen a lot of our teams get better as the year goes on. The first couple of games we’re going to be a little shaky, because of (all of our new players). If we improve, I think we can be pretty good.”

Last year, of course, the Eagles gave eventual state champion Wayne its closest test all year — an 18-0 win for the Pioneers in the semifinals of the playoffs.

“You’re going to have to have a pretty good team (to beat them),” Carey said. “But it’s not only Wayne. Bridgeport is loaded this year too, and I think Keyser is. There are some good teams out there. There’s some good football (in Class AA).

“We do have the luxury that we have some good speed that can counter a team being real strong and big,” he continued. “But it also takes a little luck. I’ve had some teams that have been undefeated, but the ball has to bounce your way every once in a while.”

There’s no doubt, though, what Carey’s presence has done to RCB’s program overall.

“He’s definitely brought discipline,” D’Annunzio said. “We are a way more disciplined team and a little bit more hard-nosed than we were. What he is instilling is obviously working.”

Like last year, though, the ultimate factor in how far the Eagles go will depend on just how well this year’s group can build a chemistry.

“I thought we had plenty of talent (last year),” Carey said. “I was always worried about if we would gel. But they did and they were a very tight group, which is why we ended up in the semifinals.”

2013 Football Schedule

08/30/13 07:30PM  A  FAIRMONT SENIOR  
09/06/13 07:30PM  A  LIBERTY (HARRISON)  
09/13/13 07:30PM  A  LINCOLN  
09/20/13 07:30PM  H  BRIDGEPORT  
09/27/13 07:30PM  H  GRAFTON  
10/04/13 07:30PM  A  NICHOLAS COUNTY  
10/11/13 07:30PM  A  EAST FAIRMONT  
10/18/13 07:30PM  H  NORTH MARION  
11/01/13 07:30PM  H  SCOTT  
10  11/08/13 07:30PM  H  ELKINS 
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  • Jeff

    Bruce is Mike's brother.

  • Bob

    Is he related to WVU's women's basketball coach? I believe he is from the Clarksburg area as well.