Chennis Berry is a man of faith and a believer in hard work.
That personality has carried over to the Benedict College Tigers football team, which made history in 2022 with an 11-1 record, the first SIAC championship, and the first NCAA Division II playoff appearance in program history.
With that in mind, BC’s head football coach is ready for the challenge of a new season and expects his players to be focused on the task at hand.
“Our opponents don’t care about what happened last year; they’re going to give us their best every single week,” Berry said as the Tigers continue preparations for the Carolinas Football Classic on Saturday against Shaw University. “We just fall in love with the process. They can never take 2022 away from us, but we have to refocus on 2023. Our mission is to go 1-0 each week.”
That mentality is especially important this season as the SIAC returns to a one-division format after several years of an East-West split.
“To me, every week is a championship game. You don’t want to lose one and come back and bite you in the butt later on,” Berry says. “You’ve got to win the games you play.”
We always feel alright in The Jungle!
Don’t miss us on September 2nd when we host Shaw University in the Carolinas Football Classic!#EyesonthePRIZE
With more than 70 returning players in the fold, it’s easy to see why conference preseason voters picked the Tigers to repeat as champions.
Leading a stellar defense is preseason defensive player of the year Loobert Denelus, who is also gaining attention at the national level. Joining Denelus on the defensive line are all-SIAC picks Jayden Broughton and Aaron Miller. Freshman Joshua Barker and Erskine College transfer Marcellus Livingston are also expected to contribute. Berry also had high praise for defensive backs Joshua Heyward and Ja’ron Kilpatrick.
“Joshua is an NFL player, and Ja’ron has been lighting it up in training camp,” he says. “We feel like the back end of our defense is going to be very good.”
Offensively, Shorter University transfer Dennis Aeneas has been named starting quarterback, and he’ll have a variety of weapons to choose from out of the backfield.
SIAC preseason selection Noah Zaire Scotland is joined by Deondra Duhart and Israel Rhodes to provide a formidable thunder-and-lightning running back corps. They will be protected by a veteran offensive led by center Mitchell Romig and left guard Roger Smith.
Benedict also upgraded its kicking game through the transfer portal with placekicker Tom Piccirillo from D-III power Mount Union and punter Charlie Cooper from Kennesaw State.
With so much talent on the roster, Berry believes that focus and discipline will have the Tigers right where they want to be.
“We always give respect to our opponent, but we’re going to lock in on us first,” he explains. “It’s not about who our opponent is, it’s about winning the day. The top of one mountain is the bottom of another, so we have to keep climbing.”
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