Massive Retooling on Horizon for Bengals

Blythewood wide receiver Javon Smith (12) breaks a tackle against Boiling Springs during the Nov. 9 first-round playoff game. Smith will return for his senior season next year, but the Bengals will have to go forward without senior Shyeim Brown (3) and other members of the graduating class.

The Blythewood Bengals football team was upset by the Bulldogs of Boiling Springs 44-36 in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 9, in large part due to falling behind 31-0 early. Head coach Reggie Kennedy believed it was a tough hole to climb out of but was pleased with the way his team responded.

“I felt like we played our worst quarter of the season in that first quarter,” Kennedy said. “We still had a chance to win it at the end and I was proud of the way our team fought back.”

The Bengals have appeared in the 4A state playoffs in each of Kennedy’s first two seasons since becoming the head coach at Blythewood high school. The Bengals finished the year with a 9-3 overall record including a 4-1 region mark, which was good enough to earn a share of the Region IV 4A championship.

“It was a good year for us and it’s something to build off of going into next year,” Kennedy said.

The head coach gave a lot of credit to the coaching staff and players.

“To have the kind of season we had says a whole lot about our seniors,” Kennedy said. “Our coaching staff did a good job of putting our players in position each week to be successful.”

Some of the high points of the 2012 season included an eight-game winning streak that featured wins at Lexington, at Sumter, at Aiken and a 21-20 homecoming win over Richland Northeast.

On offense, the Bengals will lose two players on the line (center Josh Canella and left guard Niles Carter). At the skill positions, they’ll lose three running backs, including Dean Beckford (636 yards and nine touchdowns), Devin Albert (280 yards and five touchdowns) and Ben Ruiz (421 yards and five touchdowns). Beckford set a school record for the longest run from scrimmage with a 96-yard touchdown run at Aiken. At wide-out, the Bengals will have to deal with the loss of their leading receiver Shyeim Brown (36 receptions for 411 yards and five touchdowns). Brown was also the leading returner with four touchdowns on special teams including two on kickoff and two on punts. He became the first player ever to return a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in the same game (vs. Westwood).

Perhaps the biggest hole to fill will be at quarterback. Blythewood will lose starter Kylin Binn and back up Travis Palmer. Binn finished the year with 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns through the air. In addition, Binn also racked up 266 rushing yards to go along with 11 touchdowns on the ground.

On defense the Bengals will lose defensive tackle Ervin Hall and three linebackers – Tremond Williamson, Tony Rebollo and Derek Miller. Rebollo (96 tackles) and Miller (95 tackles) finished the season as the second and third leading tacklers respectively. The defensive secondary will be without their starting corners Earl Wilson and Erik Holliday next season. At safety Blythewood will have to replace their leading turnover machine Joe Kelly, who finished with five interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

Next season the Bengals will look to advance to the state playoffs for the third year in a row. The 2013 schedule will be a mirror of this past season but with reverse sites. It all starts at South Pointe on Aug. 23, 2013.

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