By Joseph Staszewski
Quarterback Terrence Chavis was a major reason for Flushing’s success and playoff runs the last two seasons. But even after graduating Chavis, arguably the best quarterback in the PSAL last year, the Red Devils don’t see their passing attack missing a beat, with his former backup Tajmaleeak Beckett now playing that leadership role.
The senior enjoys the fact that the belief around the city is the exact opposite.
“I love it, especially when people don’t know about me,” the 6-foot-1 Beckett said. “They know Terrence Chavis, but they don’t know me. They haven’t seen me yet.”
He spent two seasons as Chavis’ backup, is athletic and has a strong arm of his own. Beckett can throw the ball 55 to 60 yards and isn’t afraid to tuck it and run it if needed. Flushing coach Jim DeSantis sees the passing attack as one of the team’s biggest strengths, with playmaking receivers like Kameron Walker and 6-foot-2 Carlyle Kent Jr. as targets.
“Beckett can sling it,” DeSantis said.
How well he can do it will depend on the performance of a big but young offense that does not return any starters. Freshmen Ireland Burke and Derek Webster will be asked to play right away. Rashid Tindal and Renaldo Paul will also be in the mix, as will senior Timothy Koki, the team’s most experienced offensive lineman.
“We do have athletes. If we can get that group to be good in 15 days, we have a shot,” DeSantis said.
The starting running back job is still up for grabs and doing it by committee is certainly a possibility. John Adams transfers Praise Prawl and Errol James are contenders, along with Christ the King transfer Aaron Johnson, one of three brothers on the team.
“We need those [young] linemen to help us boost up the run game,” Koki said,
A number of players will be asked to play both ways, with Flushing having only around 30 players on its roster heading into the season opener against Fort Hamilton at home Saturday. Even Beckett will also play linebacker alongside Holy Cross transfer Luc Johnson and brother Antonio Johnson, who came over from LaSalle. Luc Johnson could also start at defensive end.
Many of the offensive linemen will play on the defensive side also. James is expected to be a playmaking safety with Jaylen Williams. Deonte Whilchez will be at cornerback along with Walker.
“He is a little bit awkward, but he seems to cover guys,” DeSantis said of Whilchez.
Despite their inexperience, the Flushing players are determined to keep the winning going. The Red Devils reached the semifinals two years ago and the quarterfinals last season, compiling a 19-7 record during that span. The players don’t want the success to end with them.
“Ten years after I graduate, I still want them to win,” Beckett said. “You have to keep it going. Everybody wants to win.”