If Ben Lippen hopes to rebound from a 4-7 record and first-round playoff loss last year, the Falcons will need a huge season from running back Tyler Renew. It’s not like the senior hasn’t produced in the past.
Coming off a junior season in which he rushed for 1,267 yards and 23 touchdowns in nine games, Renew has gotten bigger, stronger and faster in the offseason. Coach Reggie Shaw expects another impressive outing from The Citadel commitment.
“Tyler does everything full-speed,” Shaw said. “He’s a pleasure to watch and even more pleasurable to coach. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played, and he is an exceptionally gifted athlete. He is a natural leader, and the young kids follow his lead. We are expecting another huge season from him.”
Renew will add defensive duties to his resume this season, playing at one of the linebacker or safety spots. The Falcons are deep and experienced on defense but Renew can bring an added dimension with his 4.5 speed and 205-pound frame.
But Shaw hopes the leadership quality that Renew possesses shines through because the Falcons have 11 sophomores or freshmen on the 38-man roster.
“We need his experience and leadership,” Shaw said. “He leads by example, so we feel pretty good about that.”
The rest of the skill position players will get their first real taste of varsity action.
Sophomore Robert Barrow will take the controls at quarterback. The main receiving threats will be sophomore Aaron Maguire and freshman Alec DeBoer, son of former South Carolina stand out Rob DeBoer.
That means Rrenew can expect to carry a heavy load, especially in the early going.
“We’re young at most of the skill positions but I believe they’re very talented,” Shaw said. “Barrow has a strong arm and can make all the throws. And Maguire and DeBoer will be two pretty good targets as they get comfortable. Maybe we have to lean on Tyler early but we hope to spread it around.”
Renew has some veteran offensive linemen to run behind. Seniors Will Capell and Blake Holloman were instrumental to Renew’s success last year.
Defensively, Capel and Holloman will team with Dylan Grunsky to form a solid defensive front. David Rhoden, Greg Williamson and Andrew Wilson return to form a solid nucleus at linebacker. Michael Parks and James Patterson have experience in the secondary and will team with Renew to give Shaw an experienced and physical defense.
“Our defense should be our strength, at least early in the year,” Shaw said. “We’ve got some guys that have played before and they are a year older and stronger. We are expecting big things out of a lot of guys on that side of the ball. To compete in our region, you have to be strong defensively.”
Ben Lippen lost two games in the final minutes last year, and Shaw hopes to reverse that trend. Playing a loaded schedule that includes Augusta Christian, Wilson Hall and six-time defending SCISA Class 3A state champion Hammond will be a challenge.
“The players and coaches are getting better and better in the SCISA ranks,” Shaw said. “Every team we play will be well-coached and extremely athletic. But I always say playing in SCISA Class 3A is like playing in the SEC. There are no easy weeks. But I think we have a strong nucleus and, hopefully, we will be in enough games late to find a way to win.”