GIBSONTON — Last season was one for the football record books at East Bay High.
The Indians won the program’s first district title in 40 years and won the program’s first playoff game, beating Gaither in the Class 7A region quarterfinals before losing to Sickles in the semifinals.
Prior to last season, East Bay was 0-6 in the state playoffs.
Many of the players who made the 2013 season memorable, however, have graduated. Gone are leading rusher Chris Greene, quarterback Chris Carpentier, cornerback and receiver Anton Crutcher, leading tackler Deondre Romeo and offensive linemen Daniel Delorieux and Vinny Safy.
“It’s really not defending your title because it’s none of the same soldiers,” East Bay coach Frank LaRosa said. “When we lined up for spring (jamboree), there were so many new faces it looked like a new team.”
Inexperience aside, LaRosa thinks another district title is attainable, though he admits his team will experience growing pains along the way.
“We have to be coachable,” said senior Marques Ford, a 6-foot-4, 225 defensive end who had 10 sacks last season and has verbally committed to Tennessee.
“We have a lot of young guys so we have to buy into what we’ve been doing the past few years,” Ford said.
The blueprint at East Bay — a dominant running game and solid defense — will not change.
Offensively, the Indians will be a running team by committee, led by dual-threat junior quarterback Jordan Anderson and tailbacks Bryn Nation, DJ Crutcher and Anthony Hollingshed.
But with a secondary that features an average height of 5-11, a 6-1, 220-pound linebacker making the transition from defensive line and one of the most dominant pass rushers in Hillsborough County in Ford, LaRosa knows he can rely on the defense early on.
“I like our chances,” LaRosa said.
Friday, Aug. 22, at Chamberlain
Friday, Aug. 29, against Lennard
To preview the 2014 high school football season, The Tribune is counting down the top 10 teams in Hillsborough County. The preseason rankings were voted on by staff writers Scott Purks and Nick Williams, high school sports editor Doug Jacobs and correspondent Jarrett Guthrie.