East Palestine football preview

East Palestine began 2012 by losing their first six contests by an average score of 36-13. The Bulldogs won two of their last four games including their season finale at Lisbon, 20-12. The Brown and White played six teams who finished with a winning record (0-7). In the ‘Dogs eight losses, the defense allowed an average of 40.1 points per game.

In 2013, East Palestine will have a new head coach roaming the sidelines. Bulldog alum Tony Foster replaces Gary Mattes as the team’s leader. Foster has served as a defensive assistant on South Range’s coaching staff for the past three seasons.

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The Foster-era gets underway on Friday, August 30 when the Bulldogs travel to AA Burkey Stadium to take on the McDonald Blue Devils.

2013 East Palestine Bulldogs’ Football Preview
by Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: Tony Foster, 1st season (0-0)
2012 Record: 2-8 (2-5), ITCL Upper Tier
2012 Post-Season Finish: Did Not Qualify

2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 14.6 (58th in Area)
Points Allowed: 34.7 (56th in Area)

Returning Leaders
Passing: Luke Cope – 1121 yards, 45.5 Comp. % (87-191), 7 TDs
Receiving: Nick Monteleone – 34 rec, 560 yards, 4 TDs

2013 Schedule
Aug. 30 – at McDonald, 7 PM
Sept. 6 – at Mathews, 7 PM
Sept. 13 – Beaver Local, 7 PM
Sept. 20 – Lisbon, 7 PM
Sept. 27 – South Range, 7 PM
Oct. 4 – at Springfield, 7:30 PM
Oct. 11 – at Southern, 7:30 PM
Oct. 19 – Columbiana, 2 PM
Oct. 25 – United, 7 PM
Nov. 1 – at Crestview, 7:30 PM

Offensive Strength: The combination of Luke Cope to Nick Monteleone should provide a lift to a team which struggled to score points consistently (14.6 ppg). The junior tandem produced almost half of the Bulldogs’ total team passing yards a year ago (560).

Offensive Weakness: Maintaining the line of scrimmage. A bevy of inexperience and youth along the front line is a concern for the Bulldogs entering camp this summer.

Defensive Strength: In the Bulldogs’ two wins, the defense permitted just 26 points. That’s something to hang your hat on after experiencing the past three seasons which has seen averages of 34.7 (2012), 33.1 (2011), and 32.2 (2010) allowed by the defensive unit.

Defensive Weakness: The defensive line and linebacker positions will feel the pain of graduation after losing Jacob Knopp (1st-Team All-League) and Austen Reiser (2nd-Team All-League) across the front line while Tyler Visnik and Derrick Smith also have departed.

Storylines Facing the Bulldogs
1. Regaining Homefield. East Palestine was outscored by a combined score of 191-55 at John Reid Memorial Stadium last season. The Bulldogs have won just once in their last nine home tries.

2. Junior Signal Caller Expects Big Year. Luke Cope threw for 1,138 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman on 86 of 175. This past year, Cope almost duplicated those numbers by accumulating 1,121 stripes via the air on 87 of 191 passes.

3. Tough Climb into the Upper Half. East Palestine has finished nine of the last ten seasons in the lower half of the league standings. The exception was during their last playoff appearance in 2009 when the Bulldogs closed out the league schedule tied for fourth (4-3). EP has compiled a 14-35 league mark since merging into the ITCL in 2006.

Did you know? East Palestine was the first Tri-County League team to win five consecutive league championships (1956-1960).

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