2015 East Football Preview

2015 East Football Preview
Head Coach: P.J. Mays, 3rd season (3-17)
2014 Record: 2-8
5-Year Winning Percentage: 26.0%
Division/Region: 2/3

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2014 Team Stats
Rushing Offense: 170.1
Passing Offense: 94.0
Total Offense: 264.1
Scoring Offense: 14.0 (46th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 26.5 (34th in Area)

2014 Statistical Leaders
Rushing: Jawalan Shaw – 566 yards, 5.7 ypc, 6 TDs
Passing: Brandon Jackson – 501 yards, 29.0%, 3 TDs
Receiving: Isaiah Nuckles – 17 catches, 476 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Tabrian Donlow – 86
QB Sacks: Tabrian Donlow – 6.0
Interceptions: LaAndre Green – 2

2015 Schedule
Aug. 28 – Ursuline, 7
Sept. 5 – at University School, 2
Sept. 11 – at Liberty, 7
Sept. 18 – at Niles, 7
Sept. 25 – at Fitch, 7
Oct. 2 – Howland, 7
Oct. 10 – Poland, 2
Oct. 16 – at Canfield, 7
Oct. 23 – Warren Harding, 7
Oct. 30 – Hubbard, 7

Key Losses: Obviously, the Panthers offensive attack took a big in the off-season as they lost Jawalan Shaw (top runner) and their big play receiving threat Isaiah Nuckles to graduation. Those two players accounted for 10 of the team’s 17 offensive touchdowns a year ago. When you take into account that East also will be without Brandon Jackson – who threw for 501 yards and 3 TDs while rushing for another 2 scores – as well as Damon Green (4.7 yard per carry average) and receiver Marquoise Gurley (15 catches for 2 touchdowns), one has to wonder where will the offense come from this fall? Bobby Jefferson (15 tackles, 2 sacks) also transferred to JFK this offseason.

Key Returnees: On defense, linebacker Tabrian Donlow returns for his senior season after leading the team a year ago with 86 tackles and 6 quarterback takedowns. Donlow will be joined by Larry Reed (15 tackles, 1.5 sacks) along the line and Jonathan Gregory (44 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT).

Key Storyline: Since East High School’s rebirth in 2007, the Panthers have lost just once when they score over 30 points. However, East has a streak of 30 losses in a row when they score 14 points or less dating back to September of 2010 (Last win: at Liberty on Aug. 27, 2010 – 14-0). To make matters worse, the Panthers have posted a 1-8 record in September in their last nine and a 1-11 mark in October in their last twelve. Will the Panthers be able to get over the hump this season?

Strengths: As hard as the Panthers were hit in the backfield by losses in their previous senior class, East appears to have a lot of youth returning including Larry Reed (3.4 ypc, 161 yards), Leon Bell (4.8 ypc, 95 yards) and Isaiah Donley (10.6 ypc, 170 yards, 2 TDs).

Weaknesses: In the past, the Panthers have struggled to find balance on offense. Will this year be different? In 2014, when East completed a pass the play went for an average of 17.1 yards (thanks in part to Nuckles’ 28 yard per catch average). The Panthers’ ground game was good enough to churn out 4.7 yards per carry (365 attempts, 1701 yards). Punching the ball into the end zone was a different story. On only 3% of their 54 plays per game, East was able to cross the goal line (2014: 541 plays, 17 touchdowns).

Game to Watch: August 28 vs. Ursuline
…It’s the season opener against perennial power Ursuline. For the third time in the school’s nine-year history, East and the Irish will meet. This will mark the first time that they’ll meet in back-to-back seasons. Last year, the Irish shut out the Panthers 21-0. In 2012, Ursuline got the best of East, 41-24.

New AAC Red Division
Canfield
Howland
Poland
Niles
East

Odds and Ends
…Last season saw East feature three rushers who averaged over 5 yards a carry. Isaiah Donley carried the ball 16 times but gained 170 yards (10.6) while Jawalan Shaw picked up 5.7 yards per tote (99 carries, 566 yards) and Curtis Cooper gained 6.4 per attempt (37 rushes, 143 yards).

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