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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Berry hopes to keep streak alive against Maryville

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Bryson Lamboy

Former Coosa standout Bryson Lamboy returns as one of the top defenders for Berry College, which opens the 2018 season tonight against Maryville / File-Steven Eckhoff

A new season starts tonight at Valhalla Stadium, and Berry is once again starting with Maryville, hoping to stay on course and keep the streak alive.

“They’re going to be big. They’re going to be physical. They’re going to be fast and athletic. They are every year,” Berry head coach Tony Kunczewski said. “We’ve been very fortunate the last two years to win some really close ballgames. We’re fortunate to have started 1-0 the past two years, but we know it’s not going to be easy.”

The Vikings recovered from a two-touchdown deficit last season to defeat the Scots 30-24 in Tennessee. Berry won 34-33 in 2016.

The Vikings’ youth and inexperience is one thing that’s a concern for Kunczewski, but even some of Berry’s younger players got some much-needed playing time last season when the team finished 11-1, winning its second straight Southern Athletic Association title.

Kunczewski expects even more young players to take to the field tonight at 6 p.m. against the Scots.

“We have some freshman that will be on the field Saturday night because they’ve earned the right to be out there,” Kunczewski said. “We’re going to be extremely young, and that’s always a challenge heading into game No. 1, with guys that haven’t seen a lot of action. We’re going to find out Saturday night how tough we are. For us, it’s far less about Maryville and far more about what we’re going to do.”

Those young players will have some leadership however as senior quarterback Tate Adcock will lead the offense against the Scots. Adcock played in every game last season and threw for 934 yards and 11 touchdowns.

While the Vikings lost one of their best defensive players from last season in Mamadou Soumahoro, they do return junior linebacker Brandon Palmer and junior defensive lineman Bryson Lamboy, who were third and fifth respectively in sacks last season.

Lamboy has worked his way up through the ranks at Berry after a standout career at Coosa.

Kevin Grier will also add some senior leadership in the secondary for the Vikings. Grier was the third-leading tackler in the 2017 season.

Pepperell players reunite

There could be as many as three former Pepperell players taking the field in tonight’s matchup between the Vikings and the Scots.

Wide receiver T.J. Watkins signed with Berry earlier this year, joining offensive lineman and fellow Pepperell alum Brice Pence, who is returning for his senior year. Former Pepperell quarterback Trevor Thomas however will be on the other side of the stadium as he begins his freshman year at Maryville, which plays in the USA South Athletic Conference.

Thomas and Watkins helped lead the Dragons to second place in the region and a trip to the second round of the Class AA playoffs the last two years.