From the Sideline

Column: Looking forward at East Wake football

November 18, 2013 

While East Wake football loses the focal point of its offense to graduation this school year, a bevy of players will return next season.

They’ll be older – some bigger and stronger – and more experienced.

Damontay Rhem is already as big, physically, as high school halfbacks come but he’s grown in knowledge as he led the Warriors’ ground attack over the last three years. He’ll take over more responsibility as a senior next season as East Wake seeks a workaround for the loss of senior quarterback Trent Evans.

Head coach John Poulnott says leadership – in the weight room, on and off the field – has never been a problem for Rhem, who ran for 1,429 yards and 17 touchdowns and added 345 receiving yards this year.

“He’s the example that you want everyone to follow,” Poulnott said. “There’s not a lot of people who have his ambition. He’s the one who pays the price, and he’s the one that gets rewarded. We’re waiting for some of that to rub off.”

Compensating for the loss of Evans won’t be easy. He finished the season with 1,980 yards and 19 TDs passing, and 1,031 yards and 10 TDs rushing.

The two early candidates for filling Evans’ shoes are Eric Hasbrouck and Tripp Harrington. Hasbrouck will be a senior next season, Harrington a junior.

Hasbrouck is the top option entering the offseason, but Harrington fits more in the offensive system Poulnott likes to run. They’ll have through next summer to compete for the quarterback reins.

“Hasbrouck has a lot of leadership qualities that have helped us out throughout the season, but Tripp has more gametime experience, although not behind center,” Poulnott said. “They both seem to be students of the game – seem to have some baseline knowledge there that some other kids don’t come in with.”

Regardless of who wins the QB start, both players will have a role on offense next year. If Hasbrouck becomes the Warriors’ hurler, Harrington will become a slot receiver. Alternatively, if Harrington winds up under center, Hasbrouck will be used as a tight end.

Two standout receivers will return as upperclassmen next season.

Quincy Jackson (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) will be a senior next year. He led the Warriors, hauling in 612 yards and five scores this season. Tyler Burton (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), who will return as a junior, was fifth on East Wake’s receiving list with 244 yards and two touchdowns.

East Wake is graduating two starters on the offensive line in D.J. Horton and Sam Marsh, and defensive line starters Gavin Leach and Bryson Mayo.

Eugene Hunt, who started at left guard for the last five games of the season, will be a senior next year. Chandler Eddins, who will be a junior, is a candidate to take over at center.

Overall, Poulnott says his line will be more seasoned on both sides of the ball next season.

“With the exception of the quarterback, we’re really sound with personnel coming back into 2014,” Poulnott said. “If we can remain where we are offensively, we should be much improved.

“We just need to invest a lot of time in the weight room and be able to drive a sled.”

Moody: 919-829-4806 or amoody@newsobserver.com

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