By Mark Huber
East Clinton football begins the Jeremy Yankey era Friday night at home against Batavia.
Well, the varsity football version of the Yankey era. Yankey, a graduate of ECHS and former football standout, coached the pee-wee program at East Clinton for many years.
But Friday will be different. With the soft glow of the lights shining down on the scarlet and gray, East Clinton looks to turn around a 2-8 record from a season ago.
“I’m really trying to keep the kids focused on one week at a time,” said Yankey. “We are trying to improve each week. This week, we have talked about beating Batavia and starting 1-0. The last time EC opened the season with a win was 2005. Our kids want to change that.”
Batavia was 7-3 last year and opened the season with a 26-9 win at home against the Astros. East Clinton defeated Batavia 14-0 in 2011, 32-7 in 2010, 20-6 in 2009 and 55-17 in 2008. The last win by the Bulldogs in the series came in 2007 with a 19-0 score.
East Clinton played former Kenton Trace Conference rival Southeastern in its final scrimmage. Yankey said his squad left the field “healthy and that is probably any coach’s concern with a scrimmage.”
He added, “We know there are many things that we still need to improve on but, in saying that, we saw some good things from both sides of the ball.”
Yankey said the seniors on the EC roster “have really taken ownership in this team” which gives the coach confidence from a leadership standpoint.
He would like to see a tougher Astro squad take the field Friday night.
“I am still concerned with how physical we play,” he noted. “We need to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball.”
Batavia will run multiple offenses at the EC defense, utilizing the I-formation with a big, strong fullback, Yankey said. The Bulldogs also will spread the field and throw with a quarterback who has a good arm, he added.
On defense, BHS plays a 3-3 stack with “some strong guys up front.” They also may have an edge in the kicking game.
“They have a kicker who has a good leg that will definitely give them an advantage in the field position battle,” he said.