CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Every football team deals with injuries over the course of a season. But in 2019, Robert C. Byrd had 21 players miss at least one game due to injury. Four different players started at quarterback in their 5-5 season.
“Hopefully we are past that,” said RCB head coach Josh Gorrell. “It is just one of those things. It is frustrating to think about what you could have done or what you could have been. But that happens. And that is life. It is lessons that you learn.”
“5-5 does not represent our team at all,” said RCB junior RB/DB Jeremiah King. We are definitely coming into the season with a chip on our shoulder because we are definitely way better than that.”
In just two seasons, Jeremiah King has made a name for himself in the Byrd backfield. After rushing for a thousand yards as a freshman, King ran for 2,032 yards as a sophomore. He scored 23 touchdowns and averaged over 10 yards per rush.
“Jeremiah can be as good as Jeremiah wants to be,” Gorrell said. “Does his work ethic match what I think it needs to be? No, not even close. And I would tell him if he was standing here. He knows. He is very God-gifted. He has explosiveness. His feet are outstanding. His hips are great and he is extremely intelligent on the field.”
The Flying Eagles welcome back four-year starting signal caller Xavier Lopez. He too fell victim to injury, appearing in just four games a year ago.
“It is what it is, there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Lopez. “But it is very frustrating, getting in different sets, probably winning a couple more games if we kept doing what we were doing. There’s nothing you can really do about it, just hope for the next season.
“I expect big things out of Xavier,” Gorrell said. “Xavier knows what I expect out of him. He is healthy and we look for him to have a big season. He is hungry to get back at it. He missed baseball as well.”
The RCB front line must replace all-state selection Brock Robey and building depth will be a priority in the preseason.
“I look for a huge year out of Trace Wagner. We are going to move him down from tight end to tackle. Trace has probably put on 20 to 25 pounds and he looks real good. Joseph Richards, Charles Leggett is a three-year starter coming back. So we have some guys up front.”
The Flying Eagles missed out on the playoffs for just the second time in ten years last fall. Clearly, just finishing in the top sixteen this year is not where the baseline goals are set.
“It is not enough just to get to the playoffs and be 7-3, 8-2 and go to the first round and get beat. You have done that. Let’s proceed and move up and graduate and go up to the next level and do something really good. If we do that, then I will be extremely pleased,” Gorrell said.