East Clinton will look to rekindle its magic from a fast start in 2015 when it travels to Batavia to face the Bulldogs in the season opener Friday night.
The Astros defeated the Bulldogs 25-19 at ECHS, one of two wins to start the season for East Clinton last year.
However, Jeremy Yankey’s inaugural season as ECHS varsity coach unraveled after that with eight consecutive losses.
“A good start is important because it confirms with your players the importance of your off-season workouts and your preseason preparation,” said Yankey. “Confidence early is a big key to our long-term success.”
And so is health. Anthony Osburn ran for four touchdowns and more than 200 yards in six quarters of action to start the ’15 campaign. He injured his knee in the first half of the second game and did not play the rest of the year.
But Osburn has been among four seniors who have been the pacesetters for East Clinton’s off-season program.
“We have four seniors who really stood out this off-season in how hard they worked and pushed underclassman to work as well,” said Yankey. “Anthony Osburn, Joey Gray, Aaron Livingston and Wes Kidder have put in eight solid months working out, making themselves and teammates better.”
Batavia returns standout senior Stephen Trainor and junior Austin Maham, the team’s leading ball carrier in 2015, from last season’s 3-7 squad.
“Batavia has switched to a Wing-T offense this season and will try to establish their run game early,” Yankey said in his scouting report of the Bulldogs. “They are a 3-3-5 defense and like to bring pressure from their linebackers. The Batavia kicker has a very strong leg and is capable of pinning us deep. They like to run a rugby style punt unit.”
Yankey said his squad is ready for the opener. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“We are going into this week healthy and it looks like we will have every starter ready to go,” the EC coach said. “We will start six seniors and five juniors on each side of the ball and that gives us a chance to compete in the SCOL. If we can maintain our health and continue to become more aggressive we can be successful this season.”