1st and 10 Camp Tour: Bassett’s transition from “All In” to “Ballin’”

BASSETT, Va. – Bassett grad and current Bengals head coach Brandon Johnson had one goal when he first became head coach--to create an “All In” mentality for the football program. Five years later, the “All In” motto has turned into the “Ballin’” state of mind.

“They’re hungry. They’re starving to get back on the field,” Johnson said. “We just have guys that are starving to take Bassett to the next level, whatever that may be. It may be winning playoff games and maybe not but the character of this team has already exceeded expectations for me because they’re high character men that are hungry and working hard.”

The Bengals are coming off a 9-3 campaign that included a second round playoff lost to Abingdon. It’s a game that Johnson said he’s watched countless times in the offseason. “I made a lot of mistakes in that game as a head coach. I’ve learned in my lifetime you learn more from being down--how you pick yourself up and how you move forward.”

While they lost the talented running back Simeon Walker-Muse to graduation, the Bengals offense is still dangerous with senior quarterback Ja’Ricous Hairston ready to step into a bigger leadership role.

“Just getting adjusted to my guys and throwing to them a lot more than I usually would,” Hairston said. He’s expecting to air it out a bit more than he did in 2021. Hence his decision to shred 20 pounds in the offseason.

“We have some guys that learned from those that were big last year like Simeon and they’re going to do well for us,” said Hairston.

On defense, the Bengals will be sharp with a combination of speed and strength.

“I think we’re a lot faster and we have smart people that have been practicing defense a lot so I think we’ll be stronger and faster this year,” said senior Elijah Stokes.

Bassett opens its 2022 season at home when Franklin County comes to Ed Bassett Stadium.

About the Authors

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.

Brooke Leonard is the newest addition to the 10 Sports team, joining in June 2019.

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