BEREA — Sometimes Amazay Robinson has to find his alter ago.
People call him “Mazay”, that is what he went by as Berea began fall practice last Friday, the first official day of practice for the 2022-23 SCHSL football season.
But maybe they called him “Amazing” Robinson that night he entered the Berea High School record books against Blue Ridge.
That night, after not starting the season at quarterback, Robinson broke the Berea High School football record for most passing yards in a game, throwing for 549 yards. The Bulldogs fell just short, 38-36, against Blue Ridge in late October.
“I didn’t know about it until probably two days after the game,” Robinson said, admittedly, at Berea’s practice Friday. Coaches went back over the film and totaled the stats a few days after the loss.
“When I found it out, I was surprised at myself actually … because when you a freshman, you don’t think you’ll have the chance to start and then break a record,”
Robinson said. “(A record) that I didn’t even know was, like, 500 (yards). After I broke it I was very surprised. My family was proud of me.
“If I had to estimate what I was thinking during the game? I would say, probably 300-200 … I didn’t think it would be 500.”
“I track our plays, I chart our plays … I have a rough estimate of stats and whatnot. It’s pretty close,” Berea quarterbacks coach Ford McDonald said. “I had an idea, but the thing was … we had a bunch of penalties … he could’ve, realistically, thrown for 700 yards (that night). It was a crazy, crazy game.”
McDonald remembers that game for what it sounds like: almost Madden-like. Blue Ridge coach John Boggs remembers it much the sameway.
From there, Robinson started the final six games for Berea. He threw for 1,562 yards, 10 touchdowns, eight interceptions and rushed for 251 yards and six touchdowns.
He completed 100-of-145 passes on the year and was helped by all-state senior receiver Jaheim Dodd, who had nine touchdowns and 852 receiving yards last year.
“He had fun throwing the ball to (Dodd and senior Roman Brown). He learned the game from them, they all were senior kids,” Berea coach Julius Prince said, “with experience and athletic ability. Threw the ball to them guys and they helped us become a 5-5 football team — the first non-losing season since 2010.”
Robinson’s ability will play a big part in Berea’s success this season, especially now with the Bulldogs in Region 1-AAAA with Easley, Greenville, Greenwood, Pickens and Westside.
Last season was Berea’s last in Class AAA as the Bulldogs had their best season since winning seven games in 2010 under Dean Baston.
“Instead of just me, it’s going to take a lot of people on the team to work harder,” Robinson said. “Our defense, they’re going to have to work way harder than we did last year because we have more competition.
“Offensively, we’ve got to hold on to the ball more. And probably control the clock too.”
Where Robinson can go after strong 2021 season
By his own admission, Robinson can thrive as things fall apart on the gridiron. It becomes his impromptu stage. At the least, it helped him earn all-region second-team honors as just a freshman.
“I try to improvise a lot,” he said when asked to describe his play style. “When stuff breaks down, I try to make the best out of what can happen.”
But Robinson said he also understands where he can improve. In the Bulldogs’ pistol-spread offensive scheme, he very likely could.
“Reading my options actually, reading the defense more … making better decisions,” Robinson listed the aspects of his game that need to get better. “My reads on handoffs, be more of a leader on the team, and all the throwing stuff that comes with it too.”
After learning from seniors who helped Berea to its best season in a decade, Prince said his quarterback will have to now lead a team with only three seniors: “He’s gonna have to run the show,” Prince said.
“Last year, he was just a younger guy,” Prince said. “This year, he’s gonna be the leader.”
Joe Dandron is the high school sports reporter for The Greenville News. Contact him at email@example.com or by phone at 864-415-6213.