SCIOTOVILLE — A full and relatively normal offseason and a core group of returning players has the East Tartans football program looking upward and outward.
East’s recent string of using underclassmen in prominent positions is something that second-year coach Adam Bailey is hopeful will aid his team entering the ‘21 season.
The Tartans graduated one senior a season ago and field a roster this year with again just one senior.
“Last year we only had one senior, so we’re basically bringing back everyone who played for us last year. We bring back 9-10 starters on each side of the ball, a lot of our key players.”
Bailey says his team’s commitment to growth and improvement in the weeks leading up to their first games has and likely will make a difference this fall.
Due to COVID-19 concerns a season ago, East wasn’t able to play any scrimmages or even their first regular season game prior to jumping straight into SOC I play.
“Our backs were kind of against the wall because we didn’t get to scrimmage or play week one (due to COVID). I think being able to scrimmage this year will be huge for us. We’re already leaps and bounds ahead of where we were at the start of practice a season ago,” Bailey said. “Happy with all them, showing up and putting the work in the summer. Hopefully that shows this season, the improvements we’ve made one year to the next.”
The Tartans field a roster with just one senior — and he’s a productive one.
Senior running back Leviticus Justice returns as East’s leading receiver AND rushing from a season ago and will be expected to carry another heavy load this fall.
“Levi Justice led us in receiving and rushing yards,” Bailey said. “He’s one that does an extremely good job in the offseason and he’s continued it coming into this year.”
Junior quarterback Austin Baughman will return for his third-year in the position and Bailey says his experience and leadership is a benefit to have under center with a younger team.
“He does a great job leading in the huddle and I think his experience at the position will pay off for us,” he said.
Including Baughman, the 26 non-seniors that comprise East’s roster will be expected to play a vital role this fall.
Bailey believes his team’s size up front, and their depth, will be an added bonus to ensuring a successful season.
“It’s a good mix between juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. One of the things that will be different this year compared to last will be our size,” Bailey said. “Our kids up front, we’ve probably got 7-8 kids who are above 240 pounds. We’ll be bigger up front which will hopefully help us.”
One of the things Bailey says will be key for his team will be remaining healthy. Although they have added depth, that can dissipate quickly if the “injury bug” becomes prevalent.
“We definitely have good depth this year for the most part at most positions,” Bailey said. “Like most small schools, you’re hoping you don’t get the injury bug in the spots that can affect your team.”
East will open their non-league schedule with a trip to face Bishop Rosecrans before their home opener versus Manchester in week two. A road trip to South Gallia will be their week three contest, followed by home games versus Lewis County (Ky.) and Hillcrest Academy.
The Tartans open SOC I play in week six with a home game against Eastern.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved