Returners increase Easts expectations
The faces on the football field at East are a familiar sight to coach Brian Byers. Not only did much of the team show up for summer workouts, many were the same ones playing on Friday nights a year ago.
Weve got a lot of kids coming back with a lot of experience, the Blue Aces fifth-year coach said. Im optimistic about this year.
Starting running back Deonta Thomas returns for his senior year and is all ready to go, according to Byers, after offseason knee surgery. A pair of juniors, Calil Burnett and Andrue Hisken, will also carry the ball. Burnett will enter just his third season of competitive football.
Last year you could see he was starting to get a feel for making cuts and finding holes, Byers said.
Alec Schilling, who saw experience at quarterback a year ago, takes over the starting job, while senior defensive end Carlos Brown said the defense returns stronger as well.
Defensively were still in the same 3-4, but were way more dominant this year, he said. This is one of the best teams weve had in the years Ive been here.
Byers said the names returning arent nearly as important as the group itself.
Its not so much whos coming back, its the chemistry of the guys coming back, he said. Are they on the same page and moving in the same direction? Thats what has me optimistic.
The programs overall direction is another reason for optimism. The Blue Aces posted a winning record last year (5-4) for the first time since 2008, thanks to four wins over the first five games. Improving in the win column for a third consecutive season is possible barring injuries.
And thats something weve always had to think about at our school, Byers said. With the kids we put out there at the start of the season we can play with anybody. But we dont have the depth to lose two, three, four key guys.
Thomas, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament at a wrestling meet last season, said his doctor has cleared him for full contact and doesnt expect him to miss any playing time. The 6-foot, 220-pound senior spent the offseason regaining strength and confidence in his knee.
I think its actually given me a little boost, because I knew I had to work harder to get back, he said. Its good now. Im ready.
EAST BLUE ACES
Coach: Brian Byers, seventh season, 25-28
League: City League
Last season: 5-4
Last five seasons: 19-25
Projected 2013 playoff team? No
Top skill players
|Sept. 6||North (at Heights)|
|Sept. 13||West (at NW)|
|Sept. 20||Northwest (at South)|
|Sept. 27||South (at South)|
|Oct. 3||Kapaun (at South)|
|Oct. 11||at Garden City|
|Oct. 17||at Heights|
|Oct. 25||Derby (at South)|
|Nov. 1||Southeast (at South)|
Carlos Brown on his team
What East does well: What makes this team better is we have younger talent coming up and we have last years talent coming back. Were all on the same page as one another.
What has to improve: We had to have a wake-up call from some of the guys about coming together, about doing it and not just saying it. After that, everybody asks me how I think well do, and Ive been saying I expect us to make the playoffs.