When Brock Vaigneur replaced Wheatley Alford as Beaufort Academy's head football coach in the spring, he wasn't very impressed.
"When I got here," Vaigneur said, "I looked at the record from last year -- I saw one game last year -- and I had low expectations."
But now that the former Abundant Life head coach and Thomas Heyward Academy assistant has had time on the field with his team, he's singing a different tune.
"I think we can make a run at the playoffs," he said.
Alford resigned April 23 due to health concerns after going 8-33 in four seasons, and Vaigneur, a Beaufort native, was hired in May.
Vaigneur brought eight-man experience to the Eagles. In three years (2009-2011) as the head coach at Abundant Life, he went 24-4, including a 10-0 season in 2011.
Despite his success, Vaigneur thinks his situation is better at Beaufort Academy than it was at Abundant Life.
"I had more challenges at my last school," Vaigneur said. "I did not have any help. I have a staff here. And I have more depth here than I had at my last school."
There are 21 players on the Eagles' roster for 2013 -- roughly the same as last year. While Vaigneur said you want as many kids as you can get, he thinks 21 is great for BA.
"Twenty-one or twenty-two is a very good number for eight-man football, if I can just keep it at that," said Vaigneur, who claims he doesn't even know how many players saw the field for Beaufort Academy last season.
On offense, Vaigneur said fans and opponents can expect a lot of eye-candy.
"We'll use a lot of different formations," Vaigneur said. "We're going to try to run a lot of misdirection, a lot of wrinkles. We'll give them some window dressing, try to confuse the defense and keep them off balance."
One thing that will not change, however, is the Eagles' reliance on Reyn Robinson, who accounted for 1,272 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns last season. The new coach has been impressed by Robinson's play, but said the junior running back can do more.
"I'm expecting a lot more," Vaigneur said. "But one thing I've got to do is make sure I don't run him every play and take some of the load off of him. But Reyn is going to be the workhorse, and then it's going to be running back by committee."
Robinson said life on offense under Vaigneur has been "totally different."
"He's really organized the offense, put people in the positions that they need to be in," Robinson said. "I'm really glad to be playing under him right now."
He isn't worried about his coach's high expectations.
"The pressure motivates me more than anything," Robinson said. "Any time you've got a bunch of guys looking at you to do something, that motivates you. Plus, I've got a lot of teammates looking to step up and help this year."
On defense, Vaigneur will run a 4-4, stunting and blitzing linebackers often. His goal is to win the turnover battle.
"We're going to try to cause turnovers," Vaigneur said. "And that's really all you can do in eight-man, because it's hard to stop people in eight-man. We're going to try to cause turnovers instead of forcing three-and-outs."
Vaigneur said the defense would rely heavily on the team's lone senior, Brandon Massalon, to anchor the line.
"I've been pretty impressed with him so far," Vaigneur said.
The goal for Vaigneur is for the Eagles to make the playoffs. He said a winning record would, of course, be nice, but the real goal is to improve each week, make the playoffs and survive as long as possible. That would be a successful season for Beaufort Academy.
"My expectations are very high for this football team," Vaigneur said. "I've only got one senior. We're not going to use that as an excuse. We are a young football team. A lot of these kids have played together for a while. If we get better every day, by the end of the year, we're going to be a pretty good football team. We're OK now. We're going to get better and better and better by the end of the year."
Robinson, who said injuries last year helped cover up the Eagles' talent, is in agreement with his coach.
"Watch and see," Robinson said. "I've no doubt in my mind that we're going to have a good season this year."
Stadium: Merritt Field
Region: SCISAA 8-man Region 2
Coach (years at school): Brock Vaigneur (first season)
2012 results: 1-9
Key losses: QB/LB Gibson Achurch (graduation), RB/DB Charlie Humphries (graduation), OL/DL Bryan Strawn (graduation), WR/DB Xavier Westergard, WR/DB Ashton Guest, OL/DL Gavin Palmer
Top returning starters: OL/DL Brandon Massalon, RB/DL Clay Melville, QB/CB Reyn Robinson, WR/DE Tucker Trask
Key newcomers: OL/DL William Gallant, WR/CB Charles Aimar, OL/DL Garrett Burr, OL/DL Jake Ingram, QB/DB Cain Richards, WR/LB Thomas Roddey
Date Opponent W/L Score
Aug. 24 at Jefferson Davis L 40-6
Aug. 31 RIDGE CHRISTIAN W 49-6
Sept. 7 FAITH CHRISTIAN L 42-13
Sept. 14 at Cathedral Academy L 56-14
Sept. 21 CHARLESTON COLLEGIATE L 72-8
Sept. 28 COASTAL CHRISTIAN L 44-8
Oct. 5 at St. John's Christian L 60-0
Oct. 12 ANDREW JACKSON L 20-12
Oct. 19 at James Island Christian L 44-16
Oct. 26 at Patrick Henry L 44-14
HOME GAMES in CAPS *Playoff game
Date Opponent TIme
Aug. 23 at Twiggs Academy (Ga.) 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 JEFFERSON DAVIS 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Faith Christian* 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 CATHEDRAL ACADEMY* 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Charleston Collegiate* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Coastal Christian* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 ST. JOHN'S CHRISTIAN* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Andrew Jackson 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 JAMES ISLAND CHRISTIAN* 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1 PATRICK HENRY* 7:30 p.m.
HOME GAME in CAPS *Region opponent
Players to watch
Reyn Robinson, RB
Robinson was the Eagles' main offensive weapon in 2012, rushing for 992 yards and four touchdowns and catching 16 passes for 282 yards and five scores. He averaged a whopping 7.04 yards per carry. This season, he's expected to shoulder more of the load with five of the Eagles' top six rushers lost to graduation.
Brandon Massalon, DL
The team's only senior, Massalon emerged as a key defender last season, making 47 tackles and leading the Eagles with five sacks, two fumble recoveries, two tackles for loss and two blocked punts. Massalon is expected to be the leader of the defense this season.
Three keys to the season
2013 roster (in numerical order)
No. Name Position Class
1 Zion Green RB/CB Fr.
2 Charles Aimar WR/CB Soph.
5 Alec Melville WR/DB Soph.
7 Thomas Roddey WR/LB Soph.
9 Tucker Trask WR/DE Jr.
12 Clay Melville QB/DL Jr.
15 William Gallant OL/DL Jr.
20 Cain Richards QB/DB Soph.
21 Reyn Robinson RB/CB Jr.
23 Alex Alford RB/CB Soph.
24 Charles Thompson RB/LB Jr.
30 Todger Davis OL/DL Fr.
42 Jake Ingram OL/DL Soph.
50 Brandon Massalon OL/DL Sr.
52 Macmillan Griffith RB/LB Soph.
63 Kevin Williams WR/CB Fr.
66 Michael Webb OL/DL Soph.
67 Justin Massalon OL/DL Fr.
70 Michael Bass OL/DL Jr.
71 Garrett Burr OL/DL Soph.
80 Christopher Boggs WR/CB Fr.