September 16, 2019

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EAST ASCENSION PRESEASON PREVIEW

East Ascension High School returns a lot of talent this season, ten starters from last year’s roster, five on offense, and five on defense. A team that made a run in the playoffs last season and finished with a final record of 12-3 overall and 4-1 in district 5A. Head Coach Darnell Lee believes that his key core group of players has the right chemistry to be great.

Offensively East Ascension might have one of the biggest receiving corps in the state. Having their smallest starting wide out measuring in at 6’2 and their tallest just under 6’5, with the amount of length and height that the Spartans have they could be rivaling LSU. Normally, you may have one or even two receivers over the 6’2 mark on the same squad, EA has their entire starting rotation. “As for length, by far the longest starting core we’ve had at this school. Steve McBride 6’2, Jyrin Jonson 6’3.5 and you could probably throw Hobart Grayson in there who is 6’3, 6’4.” Coach Lee stated.

Senior quarterback Cameron Jones, who made the move over from wide receiver before the start of his junior year, has worked out nicely in the Spartans offense. “Cam (Jones) is doing a good job of placing balls, to where only these guys can get it. (Steve) McBride is the type of receiver where you can throw it anywhere around him and he can make a play on it. So I think that’s pretty exciting offensively.” Coach Lee said when asked about how Jones has come along in the quarterback role.

Out of the backfield East Ascension is loaded with talent as well, senior running back Ethan Bagwell has dynamic footwork and deceptive speed. He has the ability to carry the ball on short yardage, and then line up in the slot and haul in a big reception down field. Sophomore Kendall Washington is a bruiser that can run between the tackles. “Kendall is the second heaviest squatter on the team, he squats over 500, he has vision, he is non-stop, and he is a tough back.” Lee said of the sophomore back. “Our running game is in good hands as far as the backfield. Losing Pule (Falepule Alo) that was huge, but the guys we have returning like junior Gavin Soniat, senior Michael Bailey and getting Demarcus Ester to move in gives us some guys to compete for that leadership role.” Falepule Alo and family moved to Utah during the off-season.

Defensively the Spartans have a linebacker corps led by DaJon Jones who can also play with his hand in the dirt. “He’s a tweener, he is a guy that could be a five tech defensive end, right now he is 6’3 about 230lbs. He is a former safety so he can move.” Coach Lee then went on to tell me about the depth the Spartans had at the positions, it was intriguing to hear. “Javon Carter, he is another guy who can go down and play defensive end. Then we have sophomore Rionte Jones, who is a former running back, who is our Devin White type player. He is all over the place, he is strong, fast, he is about 245lbs.”

Senior cornerback Jyren Ester has been a ball hawk for East Ascension having four interceptions last season, one returned for a touchdown and multiple passes broken up. He will be looking to improve upon that junior campaign. Coach Lee says “he is the only guy that can run with Steve (McBride), he came to us as a basketball player, he can jump, he can rebound. He has gotten better in the off-season, he hit the weights real hard this summer, hit the camp circuit, and has looked really well.”

As long as the team gets acclimated to playing together quickly and they have that chemistry playing together, expect big things from the Spartans, and a very competitive season.