BVarsity Blog

Saturday, Aug 17 2013 01:00 PM

2013 HS football previews: East

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

It's the weekend, and there's much for me to do on our High School Football Preview magazine (inside your Aug. 30 Californian), so I'll submit today's preview without further introduction.

Countdown to Week 0: 13 days

EAST BLADES

Coach: Dave Thorp (third year)

2012 record: 2-8 (2-3 Southeast Yosemite League, 1-4 home)
Average points: 19.4
Average points allowed: 33.9
Average rush yards: 119.7
Average rush yards allowed: 278.8
Average pass yards: 136.1
Average pass yards allowed: 127.0
Best win: East 34, Highland 6
Worst loss: Foothill 34, East 20
*—yardage figures are from MaxPreps and are only used if at least half of games are available. Take them with a grain of salt. Figure could be skewed depending on which games, if any, are missing

Key players: Blake Sherman, sr, QB/DB; Justyn Ridenour, sr, WR/DB; Malik Nichols, sr, WR/LB; Tyrrel Eddington, jr, OL/DL; Jesus Garcia, sr, OL/DL

Key losses: Tevin Beasley, WR/DB; Marcus Rojas, QB/DB; Tanner Vieyra, RB/LB; Brady Wylie, TE/DL; Casey Edwards, OL/DL

Offense: The Blades scored more than 30 points twice in their final three games a year ago after failing to top that number in any of their first seven — and lo and behold, they finished 2-8 after starting 0-7. Quite a bit comes back from that team, too, even though Tevin Beasley's athleticism at receiver will surely be missed. The good news is that three starters return on the offensive line, and Dave Thorp knows that's where East must start. They'll run the ball more this year, with a committee of backs each getting five or 10 carries a game. Blake Sherman returns at quarterback, but without his top target, he might be asked to manage more games instead of win them. In turn, that should cut down on mistakes; Sherman split time with senior Marcus Rojas last year and threw four touchdown passes but 11 interceptions. He does have two returning receivers in Malik Nichols and Justyn Ridenour. The Blades should be improved here, if only because they have an opportunity to be more balanced behind an experienced line.

Defense: As a longtime defensive assistant at various places, including a highly successful stint at Bakersfield College, Thorp takes East's failures on defense in his first two years personally. He's happier, at least thus far, about this year's D, saying they're faster to the ball and more aggressive in the fall. Here's the rub: Only two of them started last year. It's fine to run around aggressively, but you've got to know where you're going, too. It helps that the line is where the returners are: Jesus Garcia, David Provencio and Tyrrel Eddington all have impressed in camp this year. But Thorp is looking for linebackers from the same group he hopes a running back or two emerges, and there just don't seem to be natural athletic fits. Either way, attitude can make a big difference on defense, and you've got to trust Thorp if he says this year's Blades have a good one.

Outlook: The EB youth program that Thorp installed when he came to the school is still two or three years away from having an impact at the high school level, so he'll continue to grind out seasons with a small team, both in numbers and in size. But his tone has noticeably changed this year — Thorp sounds more positive about the team and about its fortunes. Part of that, he says, is because he realized his attitude needed to become more positive after East struggled through a 2-8 season last year (one of his worst as a coach at any level), but part of it is because it really does seem like the players are more dedicated. But again, the Southeast Yosemite League, almost to a team, should be better this year, and the non-conference schedule is loaded with teams like West, South, Wasco and Independence. On paper East's talent level doesn't seem match up with those opponents. Can enthusiasm, a veteran coach and a little experience make up for that? East was a snake-bitten team at times last year, losing its first three games by a touchdown or less, so maybe luck will even out and the Blades will win a few close ones this year. Do that, and the team might just make a return to the playoffs.

Quotable: "I feel like our program is about to turn a corner. I have no idea how that will equate to wins, but we're having some fun. I don't know if 2-8 was just an eye-opener for everybody and a wake-up call, but there has been a sense of urgency since January. We're bigger, stronger and faster, and we should be a better football team than last year." — Thorp

Schedule: Aug. 30 West
Sept. 6 BYE
Sept. 13 Mira Monte
Sept. 20 at South
Sept. 27 at Wasco
Oct. 4 Independence
Oct. 12 Tehachapi*
Oct. 18 Foothill*
Oct. 25 at Highland*
Nov. 1 at Garces*
Nov. 8 North*
*—SEYL game

Prediction: 3-7, 2-3 SEYL

2013 HS football preview index
Aug. 1: 8-man schools
Aug. 2: Burroughs, Boron, Desert
Aug. 3: Rosamond, California City
Aug. 4: Frazier Mountain, Kern Valley
Aug. 5: McFarland, Delano, Kennedy
Aug. 6: Chavez
Aug. 6: Shafter
Aug. 7: Arvin
Aug. 7: Taft
Aug. 8: Wasco
Aug. 8: Bakersfield Christian
Aug. 9: Mira Monte
Aug. 10: Golden Valley
Aug. 11: South
Aug. 12: West
Aug. 13: Ridgeview
Aug. 14: North
Aug. 15: Foothill
Aug. 16: Highland

Tomorrow: Tehachapi

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