By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
As new head coach last year, Jeremy Warren made sweeping changes to the entire Rockford East football program. No changes were more dramatic than the offensive system he brought in.
Last season, the E-Rabs spread the field and tried to use their speed and athleticism to their favor. It worked at times, but turnovers and penalties, not to mention still not having a full grasp of the offense at times, hurt their success.
East was much more competitive than their 2-7 record indicated last season. With a large group of players returning, the system is in place, which means the E-Rabs can now work on improving their shortcomings.
“We are getting it down,” senior quarterback Andrew Lantz said of the offense. “Our line is looking better, and they are getting the schemes and the blocking styles. We’re looking a lot better this year.”
Lantz is the senior star, but he is not alone. Michael Estegard, Michael Leach and Darshawn Pumphrey-King all return on a fast defense. And Wes Short not only returns to anchor that defense, but will also be a top threat on offense for the E-Rabs.
“We’re expecting big things out of Wes Short,” Warren said. “But we’re expecting big things out of all our guys.”
Short and the offense will again look for big plays. But defensively, the E-Rabs are strong, with their athletes flying all over the field and looking to make big plays on that side of the ball as well.
The goal for East is to correct enough of those mistakes and make the playoffs. It sounds like a tall task, but for a team that was so close last year, fixing those problems may be enough to get there.
“We can’t do anything to beat ourselves,” Warren said. “We can’t turn the ball over, and we have to play good football. We have to be fundamentally sound in all phases.”
From the Aug. 24-30, 2011, issue