Brandon Cherry said every member of the Blue Jays has been chomping at the bit for the start of the upcoming 2014 season, which kicks off on Saturday at noon with a home game against Randolph Macon at Homewood Field.
“Everybody’s just excited to get back on the field,” the junior running back said. “It’s been a while since our last loss to Wesley, and we’re putting that behind us. We’re coming in with the fresh mind that it’s a new season and we’re ready to get back in it.”
The new season means a featured tailback role for the Parkville resident and Boys’ Latin graduate. Last year, Cherry began last season backing up J.D. Abbott before injuries to Abbott opened the door for Cherry to lead the team in rushing attempts (140) and yards (986) and rank second in touchdowns (eight).
This fall, Cherry is the undisputed starter, but he will be aided by sophomores Stuart Walters (118 carries for 663 yards and five touchdowns) and Dionisio Roman (26 attempts for 126 yards and three scores.
The pairing of Cherry and Walters makes Johns Hopkins one of just eight Division III teams in the country with two returning players who ran for at least 650 yards last year.
Blue Jays coach Jim Margraff said he has no doubt that the 5-foot-6, 174-pound Cherry can be a three-down back. But Margraff also knows that keeping the running backs fresh will make the offense more dangerous.
“What we have now are two guys in Brandon and Stuart that have similar talents,” he said. “They have different strengths, but they both catch the ball very well, they’re both good blockers, they’re both tough kids. And Brandon has developed himself to the point where he’s short, but he’s not small. He can carry the ball 25 times if needed, but I think one of our strengths the past couple years has been that we can break up those carries pretty well and keep guys fresh in the second half of the year. So I can see us taking the same approach.”
Cherry said he has no problem with sharing the ball with Walters and Roman.
“The way our offense is set up, because we’re so high-paced and constantly running plays, I feel as if it’s a multi-back offense,” he said. “We have three great backs on the team, and I feel as if they’re ready to carry the workload of being a run-heavy team. So the load is on all of our shoulders, not just myself.”