The Booker T. Washington High School football team made history in 2016 when it reached the playoffs for the first time in the school’s 25-year history.
“There seems to be an increase in enthusiasm with a little extra work after last season,” said BTW Head Coach Maurice Heard, who is entering his seventh season at the helm for the Golden Eagles.
BTW finished with a 7-4 record in 2016, its first winning season in Heard’s career. The Golden Eagles are 17-42 under Heard. BTW was knocked out in+ the first round of the Class 5A playoffs last year via a 57-0 setback to highly-ranked Vigor.
The Golden Eagles will open their season at home on Friday, Aug. 25 when they face Marbury in a non-region contest. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and tickets are $7 each.
The roster of 55 players has several returning starters, including sophomore quarterback Joseph Graham, who started the last half of the season in 2016 for the Golden Eagles.
Graham passed for 321 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions after becoming the starter. He rushed 44 times for 218 yards and four touchdowns.
Senior Dyrese Hubbard (5-9, 175) returns at one of the running back spots after an outstanding junior season during which he rushed for 1,567 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Senior Brian Mose (5-9, 195) gives the Golden Eagles a one-two punch at running back. He rushed for 666 yards and six touchdowns in only 67 carries, an average of 9.9 yard a rush in 2016.
At the wide receiver spots will be Kendal Moore (6-0, 200), a senior starting for the first time, senior Jermarieon Harris (6-0, 155), a returning starter, and Tyson Armstead (5-8, 160), a senior who played some receiver in 2016.
Senior first-year starter Cameron Williams (6-2, 270) will open at center. Jaylen Mitchell (5-8, 270), a returning starter as a junior, and Jair Carbral-Akinshegun (6-3, 300), a junior first-year player, will be at the guards.
Lining up at the tackles will be senior Frank Stroud (5-11, 230) and Ki’yon Nichelson (6-255), a junior who will be starting for the second season.
Versatile senior Joe Phillips (6-0, 215), is the returning starter at tight end.
Defensively, two returning starters are at the ends. They are junior Daniel Bettis (6-0, 240) and senior Tyran Burnside (5-11, 175). Bettis had 12 tackles in 2016, but four were for sacks and he recorded five tackles for losses. Burnside was fourth on the team in tackles with 27, including five sacks and a team-high 12 tackles for loss.
At the tackles will be a pair of new starters in junior Jeremiah Marshall (6-0, 275) and senior Amari Murray (6-2, 270).
Phillips leads the linebackers, returning after recording 62 tackles in 2016, good enough for second among Golden Eagle defenders. He had four sacks.
Mose will be at linebacker with junior Bakari Taylor (5-11, 190), a transfer at weakside linebacker. Another linebacker in the 40 defense will be Hennessy Smith (5-10, 185), a junior with some playing experience.
Senior Aubrey Davis (5-8, 160), a transfer from Atlanta, will be at one cornerback with returning starter Armstead at the other corner. Armstead had 25 tackles last year to go with a team-high three interceptions.
Senior Marquavious Robinson (5-10, 175) will be at free safety and Smith will be at strong safety and as a rover. Robinson moves from quarterback and will remain the back-up quarterback if needed.
Hubbard and Davis will be the punt and kickoff returners. Armstead and Burnside are the placekickers.
BTW is in Class 5A, Region 2. Others in the region are Carroll of Ozark, Charles Henderson of Troy, Eufaula, Greenville, Rehobeth and Headland.