4 Questions with Benedictine head coach Danny Britt

Benedictine head coach Danny Britt is shown on the sideline in the first half against Fitzgerald during the Class 2A state championship game in December 2016 in Atlanta. (PHOTO / JASON GETZ)

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Benedictine head coach Danny Britt is shown on the sideline in the first half against Fitzgerald during the Class 2A state championship game in December 2016 in Atlanta. (PHOTO / JASON GETZ)

Today’s interviewee is Danny Britt, head coach of defending Class 4A champion Benedictine. Britt is in his 12th season at the Savannah Catholic school, where his record is 120-26 with three state championships.

Danny Britt, Benedictine head coach

1. What was the story of the 2021 team, and how was it different than other good Benedictine teams through the years? “That team was different than those we’d had in the past because of what happened two seasons ago and how that year ended. We lost in the (2020) semifinals to Jefferson in a tight game (42-35 after Benedictine drove to the Jefferson 12 in the final minutes but was intercepted in the end zone). We went into last season returning a lot of seniors, and we had one goal, and that was the state championship. I’ve never done that before with a team. We’ve always had goals that weren’t related to the number of wins or the state championship, but that was the mentality of the ‘21 team. Then we started 0-2 (with losses to Christopher Columbus of Florida and Beaufort of South Carolina). After that, we changed how we were practicing. Our kids changed. Their sense of urgency changed. We really learned to practice at a high level and learned that how you practice directly affects how you play on Friday night. We knew that before, but that team really took that lesson and ran with it and got better every single week on to winning a state title.”

2. How is this year’s team looking? “There’s a lot of unknowns because we lost so much. We lost our entire offensive line. All five were seniors. They worked well together. Coach (Trevor) Coleman did a really good job with them. Luke Kromenhoek will be the quarterback. He doesn’t get as much press for obvious reasons. He hasn’t played, being behind Holden Geriner (an all-state performer now at Auburn). But he’s very good. He’s going to explode onto the scene. We have good skill guys. Za’Quan Bryan, who led 4A in receiving last year, will move into the Justin Thomas role at slot back, but he’ll still have the ability to be a receiver while also being a legitimate tailback. (Thomas was an all-state player now on Georgia’s baseball team.) Thomas Blackshear and LaDon Bryant, a 6-4 guy, will be the receivers. RaSean Matthews and DeBarry Greene will move into the other spot, and Houston Jackson will be our Swiss Army knife, doing a number of things. Defensively, our front seven should be good. They can be athletic and quick as well as having size. We could be a good team and still start the season with losses because we’re playing some really good opponents. They understand that.”

3. Kromenhoek is a consensus top-400 national recruit committed to Florida State, but as you said, he hasn’t played much in real games. What more can you say about him and how his skill set compares to Geriner’s? “First of all, you’re going to see a very tough quarterback with a tough mentality. How he played safety and wide receiver, that’s what you’re going to see with him as a quarterback. He’s extremely talented. He’s 6-4 with a rifle arm and can run. He’s going to make his mistakes and have his struggles because he hasn’t played as much in live situations, but he’s going to be a special type of player. He’s very comparable to Holden as far as arm strength. I think they both have NFL-caliber arms. Luke is more athletic and can really run. And where Holden was a very cerebral player who kept it all in, Luke is the direct opposite type personality. He’s a linebacker playing quarterback. He loves the contact and the physicality of it all.” (Kromenhoek had 49 solo tackles last season along with 287 receiving yards, 123 passing yards and 186 rushing yards.)

4. As you did last season, you’re playing two out-of-state teams, this time both on the road at Christopher Columbus in Miami and Bolles in Jacksonville. Benedictine historically had not played many out-of-state opponents until last year. How did these games come about? “Originally it was built out of necessity. We only had a four-team region (in 2020-21), and we needed a lot of games. We were struggling to find people because we’re pretty good, and local teams don’t want to play us. We could get games in Atlanta, but I didn’t really want to go to Atlanta. We started putting it out on Twitter and social media and got an email from a guy named Joe Maimone (who runs Prep Gridiron Logistics, a New Jersey company that matches nationally prominent high school teams for interstate games). He said he saw us looking, but he was offering huge schools like St. Johns Bosco and De La Salle (top-25 national programs out of California). I said we’re pretty good but not quite that good. (Britt did like the idea of playing a fellow Catholic school, and Maimone set up the game with Christopher Columbus, Florida’s 2019 Class 8A champion.) That had me thinking that if we’re going to have to play really good schools, why not become a semi-national program? I talked with my administration, and they fully supported it. What does it require? I said money. But they were OK with it. So we scheduled a home-and-home with Christopher Columbus. That’s a pretty cool opportunity for a high school kid. They get to travel down to Miami like we’re in college. This year again, we were looking for a game, and I texted Bolles, and they said they had an opening, so we were able to fit it in.”

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