CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In its 16 seasons as a Class AAA school, Clarksburg's Robert C. Byrd produced its fair share of football talent, but not much in the way of postseason success.
The Eagles, under three coaches from 1996-2011, were typically long on athleticism but short on cohesion, Class AA All-State running back Ben D'Annunzio said.
"What Coach Carey brought was discipline," D'Annunzio said of second-year Eagles Coach Bruce Carey, who emerged from a short retirement after leaving Bridgeport following the 2009 season to take over the reins at Byrd last year.
"It's the kind of discipline that it takes to be successful as a team," D'Annunzio said. "There's a lot better atmosphere here now than when I was a freshman. The locker room is actually a lot friendlier."
The improved structure paved the way for Byrd's most successful postseason run to date. The Eagles reached the Class AA semifinals last year before giving Wayne its toughest contest of the playoffs in an 18-0 loss at Wayne.
Last season's two playoff victories were one short of Byrd's total during its time in Class AAA.
D'Annunzio was tabbed early in his prep career as an up-and-coming star in Harrison County. A trip last month to Chapel Hill, N.C., however, better illustrated to the junior what is possible for him.
"I was down at North Carolina's camp, and their receivers coach came up to me and told me I reminded him a lot of Ryan Switzer," D'Annunzio said. "To me, that was big because Switzer's the man when it comes to West Virginia high school football.
"I met him down there and we're built the same in a lot of ways. I think I might be an inch taller than him but it's not much. He's a pretty good guy."
At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, D'Annunzio's current recruiting profile on the National Collegiate Scouting Association website shows his top time in the 40-yard dash at 4.55 seconds, with a 255-pound max bench press, 350-pound squat max and a 36-inch vertical leap. While targeted as a potential receiving recruit, he said he is likely to remain at running back through the rest of his prep career.
Kind of like a two-time Kennedy Award winner from George Washington.