Berry leads trio of Duke honorees
Published 11:02 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2018
It may have been another difficult year for Cumberland County High School’s varsity football team, but coaches in both Region 1B and the James River District agreed the Dukes had talent that deserved recognition.
Cumberland senior Ziahir Berry made the all-region first team as an all-purpose defensive player and the second team as an all-purpose offensive player. He also was the Dukes’ lone representative among the all-district honorees, making the second team as both a wide receiver and as an all-purpose defensive player.
More teams existing in the district than in Cumberland’s region helped make it more difficult to net district honors than regional awards.
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But the regional round of awards allowed other Dukes players to receive rightful acclaim, including junior defensive lineman Blake Barker and junior linebacker Terrell Harris, each of whom were second-team selections.
Cumberland Head Coach Jamaal Artis was largely pleased with the recognition his team drew.
“I think it kind of represented some of our hardest workers all year and statistically a lot of our better kids and where they stack up among the region players,” Artis said.
Berry might have stood out even more if he had suffered a hand injury.
“If he doesn’t break his hand, he’s possibly up there with close to a thousand years rushing and who knows how many yards receiving,” the coach said. “It’s just the same thing we had to deal with this year as far as all the injuries and everything — tough luck.”
In Artis’ first year leading the program, the Dukes struggled to an 0-11 finish for the second year in a row, falling in the first round of the Region 1B playoffs.
Berry provided the foremost highlights among the awards, though, finishing with 558 yards rushing on 74 carries with three touchdowns. As a receiver, he recorded 12 catches for 177 yards and three more scores.
Defensively, he had 84 total tackles, including 44 solo tackles, six tackles for a loss and one sack. He also had one interception and one fumble recovery.
He rotated around to different places on the field as a linebacker and safety.
“When he broke his hand, he missed those couple games, we realized and he realized we had two young kids who filled in at free safety that are actually pretty good, so he actually was really important in kind of coaching those guys up and he learned a new position playing inside linebacker,” Artis said.