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ECHS’ Randolph prepares to tackle a new position
Berry Randolph
Effingham County's Berry Randolph is getting looks at nose guard this spring after starting on the offensive line last football season. (Donald Heath for the Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

SPRINGFIELD – After starting 10 games on Effingham County’s offensive line last season, Berry Randolph didn’t like the thought of moving to defense.

“Truth be told, I was a little upset,” he said. “I love the offensive line. But my mom talked to me, (she said) don’t look at it as a bad thing. What’s that saying? When one door closes, another one opens.”

There’s also a saying about spring. It’s a time for renewal and a rebirth of spirit. ECHS will be finishing its 10 spring football practices tonight (May 15) with a game on the road against Richmond Hill.

For Randolph, it’s a chance to show what he can do at nose guard.

“He’s versatile,” Rebels coach John Ford said. “We’re trying him at nose because he’s a great athlete and he’s a hard worker. He takes a big-picture view of everything he does. He has great demeanor and he’s well-respected as a person and a player.

“He’s just a sophomore in high school (this year), but he has maturity and wisdom beyond his years.”

More help for the ECHS defense would be welcomed. The Rebels surrendered 28 or more points in four of their final five games last season, including the 47-14 loss to Lovejoy in the first round of the state tournament.

Randolph’s hustle on the offensive line didn’t go unnoticed.

“Being the smallest guy on the line motivated me to do better,” Randolph said. “Just hustling, giving encouragement – I worked with what I had.”

His work ethic during the track and field season led to improvement in the discus and his throw of 139 feet, 9 inches in a meet at West Laurens broke a 13-year school record by more than seven feet.

Now he’s looking to put work in to learn about the defensive line. His play will be on display in the spring game.

“I’m not worried about Richmond Hill,” Randolph said. “I’m just looking forward to improving myself. It’s just a scrimmage so I’ll go out there and do what I can do. And see what I can learn.”

ECHS Football
Effingham County football coach John Ford speaks to his team after spring practice May 10. The Rebels traveled to Richmond Hill May 15 to play the Wildcats. (Donald Heath for the Effingham Herald.)
Rebels tackle familiar foe for spring game

Ford said he had hoped to schedule Richmond Hill for a non-region football game in the fall but couldn’t find a compatible date because of realignment.

The Rebels and Wildcats have played every year since 2012 – mostly as region foes – but Richmond Hill’s high enrollment pushed the school into Class 7A two years ago.

Ford scheduled Richmond Hill home and home for season openers in 2022 and 2023. The Wildcats won 14-0 in 2022 and 34-7 last season.

“We have a great opponent and that will give us a good measuring stick for where we are and what we need to work on in the summer,” Ford said. “You don’t scheme for (a spring game) like you would a game in the fall. We’re looking to execute our stuff and play hard. We’re excited about the opportunity.”

The spring game will conclude 10 workouts within 13 school days, in accordance with Georgia High School Association rules.

Ford said the football team will resume practicing on June 3.