Head Coach Seth Johnson and the East Newton Patriots are beginning to check their watch, as the practice clock is quickly running down.
Friday night, Aug. 15, the team travels to Marionville for a pre-season jamboree. Starting at 7 p.m., the Patriots will have their first chance to face-off with players in a different uniforms. The Marionville Comets are hosting the Patriots, the Hollister Tigers and the Pleasant Hope Pirates in a pre-season scrimmage, allowing the four teams the try and work out some of the bugs prior to the season openers, starting a week later.
“You got to start at the basics, we have a young team, that’s where we’ve been working and they’ve been responding,” said Johnson.
The team is small again this year, with 25 players out for the team, but they are returning three to four two-way starters. Adding to that, the veterans come from all sections of the field, the offensive and defensive backfield, the offensive line, the receiving and linebacker corps.
“We’re going to do like most high school teams, establish the run to open up other options,” said Johnson. “We may have to adjust, but that’s where we’re going to start.”
The Patriots will use a fullback and two halfbacks in the backfield.
“It looks like we are going to rotate the halfback slots with three players, Tyler Winsauer, Payton Clouse, and Nathan Dallas.”
Sophomore Chance Liveoak will take over the quarterback slot this year, following his brother Rocky, last years starter. Travis Allen and Jackson Powell return to the offensive line and Aaron Millet, a two-way starter last year, will be looking to catch some more Liveoak passes for big gains on offense.
“Defense is going to be about the same as in the past. It will based on the 4-3-4 defense,” said Johnson.
Similar to their offense, the Patriots have returning starters in each defensive zone, Matt Millet in the backfield, Drew Williams at linebacker and Travis Allen up front.
“There’s still room for new starters, we think we know who is going to be playing but we’ll see,” said Johnson. “We have a senior lineman that’s currently unavailable, he may change the picture later.”
Regular season play will begin Aug. 22, against the Carl Junction Bulldogs at home. The Bulldogs come off a 10-2 season, only losing to Webb City both in the regular season and in the second round of the playoffs.
8/22 Carl Junction Home
8/29 Monett Away
9/5 Diamond Home
9/12 McDonald County Home
9/19 Seneca Home
9/26 Mt. Vernon Away
10/3 Lamar Away
10/10 Cassville Home
10/17 Aurora Away