By Matt Nestor
The East E-Rabs were the exception to most schools, keeping the same coach for eight years in Jeff Matzl. Now, they are on their second new coach in as many years.
For most programs, that would be an issue, but for new coach Jeremy Warren, it has almost been business as usual for East.
Despite some grumblings about another change at first, Warren said the returning players have bought into the changes, and now they are looking on building on an encouraging season last year.
“We had great continuity here compared to other schools. Then, we have one change and then a short time later, another change,” Warren said. “So, at first, I think there was some ‘Who is this, what are they doing and who are our coaches?’ But all in all, I think it’s going pretty good so far.”
More than anything, however, everything is going good because there is some experience back for East. A number of sophomores were called up for the E-Rabs last year, and while there are certainly some senior leaders, there are also some junior leaders.
One of the top seniors returning for the E-Rabs is Zach Mutton, who plays both sides of the ball, but was one of the top running backs last year.
For the juniors, and one of the most important pieces, is quarterback Andrew Lantz. Lantz took over the position in the second half of the season and gives Warren an experienced signal-caller under center.
“He’s a smart, athletic kid who is only a junior,” Warren said. “Experience makes a big difference, especially from an evaluation standpoint. Especially when you are talking about the quarterback position. It’s one thing to be good in seven-on-seven or simulating some game situations. But there is something different about being under center when the lights come on Friday night and you have to make plays and make decisions.”
One thing Warren was excited about with his new team is the size of his linemen. He said the team, while they need to work on their strength, is still bigger than he expected, and gives them the ability to compete physically.
The size, depth and experience has led Warren to concentrate on one big thing that he hopes may lead them into the playoffs. More than anything, Warren hopes the E-Rabs just don’t beat themselves.
“I think the discipline is huge and important for us and this program,” he said. “When talent is close, the discipline will win. You have a chance to be in the game when you don’t beat yourself up. And I hope our kids compete. You get in those competitive situations, and you see how your kids respond.”
From the Aug. 25-31, 2010 issue