Hermitage RB/DB Jeremiah Coney (Video Still: Byron Jones)
Hermitage looks for a re-emergence with talent like Jeremiah Coney
by Byron Jones, recruit804
Hermitage football has a storied history of producing top Division I and NFL talent. Duane Brown, Curtis Grant, Fontel Mines, Jamie and Darren Sharper, and Shawn Barber are names that come to mind when I think about Hermitage.
After Patrick Kane stepped down, the wheels fell off one of the most feared and revered programs in the central region. Top players such as Ali Jennings (Highland Springs – WVU) and Kahlil Finger (Henrico – VMI) transferred, and the Panthers were left with a few seniors, a handful of juniors, and a plethora of freshman and sophomores. They were outscored 430-62, shut out five times, and finished their 2018 campaign with an abysmal 1-9 record.
An immediate search for a replacement was underway when Derrick Johnson resigned seven days after the Panthers final game. School officials casted a wide net to find a suitable replacement to restore prominence to their program. In the end, it turned out that their ideal candidate was only a few minutes down the road.
David Bedwell, who won three consecutive state title at L.C Bird, stepped down from his position as Athletic Director at Bird to become the new Head Coach at Hermitage in February of 2019. Excitement raced through the area and people began to believe that Hermitage was on its way back to relevance.
However, a few weeks before the season started, Bedwell was suspended for the 2019 season because of off-field legal issues pertaining to his last job at L.C. Bird. Despite the distraction surrounding their coach, the Panthers raced out to a 2-1 start, with one of their victories coming over an incredibly talented Thomas Dale team lead by Chris Tyree (Notre Dame).
The following week after the Thomas Dale victory, the Panthers ran into a three-game buzz saw, losing big to Varina, Deep Run, and Maury. In their defense, Varina would eventually be crowned Region 5B champs, Deep Run advanced to the Region 5B semi-finals, and Maury won the Division 5 state title. A play here or a play there against Henrico and Douglass Freeman, and Hermitage could have been 6-4 and made the playoffs.
How the young Panthers fared in 2019 speaks volumes to the staff that was left in place during Bedwell’s absence and the maturity of the young men strapping it up. It could have been another 2018 season all over again, but it wasn’t. One of the talented freshmen from last year’s squad is ready to take his game to the next level and put Hermitage back where they belong.
Jeremiah Coney (2023 RB/DB 6-1 180) could be the next big running back out of Hermitage. As a freshman, Coney racked up close to 1,000 yards on the ground and recorded nine rushing touchdowns.
He’s a lengthy back who gets north and south in a hurry. He also isn’t afraid of contact and will run over defenders.
When asked about his freshman campaign, Coney stated, “It took a while to adjust and adapt to being a on the varsity level as a freshman because you are with so many older guys that are way bigger than you, so their throwing you around in practice and two-a-days… It was just a great high school experience.”
Jeremiah was one of the top running backs at Sunday’s camp and remains eager to continue perfecting his craft before the season kicks off in March. “The main focus on my mind is getting my technique straight and my speed… Drop my forty time, getting my legs stronger, work on my shiftiness. Just working on my speed a lot because speed matters,” he explained.
In addition to the return of Bedwell and Coney, Hermitage returns Nigel James Jr. (2021 RB/DB 5-10 185) who rushed for over 1500 yards and was a Second Team All-804 selection. Coney and James give the Panther’s one of the area’s best 1-2 punches. Jasiah Robinson (2021 LB/DB 5-9 180), Gabriel Clayton (2021 DL/OL 6-3 260), Brandon Flippen Jr (2022 WR/LB 6-0 160), Marcos Torres (2021 DE 6-0 220), and Brock Schaeffer (2021 QB 6-3 200) are also back and bring a wealth of game experience with them.
“Last year it was unfortunate not having our head coach, but this year upcoming year when we have him, we coming different. Believe that! We’re going to be good .”
– Byron Jones