Running the football has long been the staple of Roberson’s offense.
But if all goes well this season, the Rams’ receivers will have their hands full on Friday nights.
Seniors Alex Talley (27 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns in 2012), Zach Dollinger (24 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns) and Marcus Jenkins (nine receptions for 134 yards and four touchdowns) headline an able group.
Roberson’s receiving corps and secondary were about the only areas that weren’t hit hard by graduation — the Rams only have four returning starters back on each side of the ball from last year’s 9-2 team.
An unexpected loss came when former All-WNC defensive lineman Graham Wells (115 tackles, 10 sacks) moved to Florida in the offseason.
Senior Reggie Pinner (148 yards and two touchdowns with one interception) is the quarterback whose right arm should get plenty of use this fall. As a junior, he backed up 2012 Mountain Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year Noah Suber, who is now on the roster at Carson-Newman (Tenn.).
“We’ve had an unbelievable spring and summer,” Roberson coach Jim Beatty said.
“Reggie has really picked up the offense. Our receivers are definitely our strongest position, so we’re probably going to throw the ball more than we have in the past. We’ve still got to figure out what we’re going to do at running back. We’re going to be big up front. We’ve got some good kids, they just lack game experience at this point.”
MAC coaches polled for the N.C. Prep Football News Yearbook have picked the Rams as the fourth-place team in their preseason poll. Along with McDowell, Roberson is now one of only two teams in the MAC’s 4-A division with Reynolds moving down to 3-A.
“We’re a hungry, motivated team,” Jenkins said.
“Replacing Noah is not easy, but Reggie has really come in and worked hard. Of course I’m excited about our offense (as a receiver).”
Junior Angelo Cogburn was the second-string tailback to 1,000-yard rusher Malik Griffin in 2012 and is one of the backs in the mix for a starting job, Beatty said.
Senior Pat Gilliam is a four-year varsity player and expected to be one of the team’s most valuable linemen, along with juniors Tyreek Smith and Tyrius Smith.
Seniors Jacob Deaton (47 tackles) and Ben Warren (22 tackles) are veterans in the secondary.
Appalachian State baseball recruit Katon Harwood is part of the football team at Roberson for the first time, but the senior did not practice Thursday night because of a knee injury. Harwood is expected to play linebacker.
“We’re excited about the season,” Gilliam said.
“We know there are some doubts about this team. We’ve got some different players this year, but they’ve got talent.”
Roberson opens its season Aug. 23 at home against North Henderson.
Buncombe County’s biggest school (1,466 students) should once again have one of the largest rosters in WNC with more than 50 varsity players.
The Rams are two-time defending MAC 4-A champions and have gone 16-6 the past two seasons, but they have not won a playoff game since 2007.