By Patrick McCormack
No matter how the team looks at the beginning of the season and the number of new players they have on the field, the goal is always the same for Campus Magnet.
The Bulldogs had an up-and-down season last year before falling to Erasmus Hall in the opening round of the PSAL City Conference playoffs. The new-look Bulldogs are ready to try to compete for a city championship.
Campus Magnet Coach Eric Barnet knows his squad has work to do before it can get to the Bronx. He called his young team a work in progress, but one that can be a handful if things click.
“Just teach them the whole culture of what we are about offensively and defensively,” Barnet said. “Not too many teams in the city are similar to us. We’re a very traditional pro-style offense. We run a power game. The guys just need to understand what our team is about and what our philosophy is and buy into it. Eventually it will work.”
One change for the Bulldogs is receiver Roy Harvey will replace Joah Pryor as the team’s top running back. The key to the run game is the offensive line, whose core is made up of James Wilson, Maurice Richards and Kadeem Charles. If the line sticks together the unit will be fine. Campus Magnet ran the ball well in a scrimmage against John Adams last week.
“We have to come together like a family because without being together we have nothing. United we stand, divided we fall,” Richards said.
Barnet is confident in what his team can do on the ground but knows he has big shoes to fill at quarterback with the graduation of Blessuan Austin. Juniors Josiah Darnell and Que-Ruan Mosby are battling for the job.
On the defensive end, Charles and sophomore linebacker Jeshua Darnell lead the unit. So far Charles thinks the defense is the best it has been since he has been on the team.
“It’s great,” Charles said. “This is one of the best defenses we have had since 2012.”
He also thinks the young members of the team are progressing well at practice.
“They are picking it up quickly,” Charles said. “They are learning. It’s not very easy being on varsity, but they’ll learn.”
The Bulldogs started last season 0-5 and things don’t begin any easier this year. Campus Magnet opens with a good Clinton team and then defending PSAL city champion Lincoln.
Barnet thinks his team will gel as the year goes on and get ready to make a run at the title game.
“I want to get to Yankee Stadium to see somebody besides Derek Jeter,” Barnet said.