Eagles football starts season strong

Story by Elise Palmer, Staff Writer

#NewEast has been trending on Twitter, put as Instagram captions, and has even made it’s way onto lots of T-shirts. Why is this hashtag so important? In short, East Meck football.

The hashtag represents the new reputation of East’s football team, who has started the season strong with a 4-2 record under the coaching of Barry Shuford.

“We try to build on momentum,” Shuford said, “We want to get off to a fast start… and continue to improve as the season goes on.”

Shuford is in his third year coaching at East, but has been coaching football for 32 years.

During the 2015 season the Eagles went 6-6 and came in fourth in the Southwestern 4A Conference. This was a huge accomplishment for the team. In 2014, the Eagles only brought home two wins and in 2013 they went 1-10.

Many thought that East was at its peak during the 2015 season. The Eagles suffered a loss against Mallard Creek in the first round of the playoffs last year, but they have big goals for the current season.

“We want to make it farther than the first round of the playoffs and win a conference championship,” said senior linebacker Tyler McCall. “We want to be the best team we can be.”

So far this season the team has performed to its best with wins over Phillip O. Berry and North Meck. The team won their first home game against Harding with a crushing 56-6 victory, as well as a 29-21 win over Independence.

A huge part of this success is credited to the coaching ability of Shuford, who made it a requirement for football players to take weightlifting as a class last year to improve their fitness.

“Coach Shuford came in and brought a new atmosphere to the coaching staff,” McCall said, “So we decided we’re going to work a lot harder.”

Work ethic is also a huge factor contributing to the Eagles’ success. The team practiced every day in the summer and has done a lot of preparation for the upcoming season.

“We practice a lot. We do a lot of drills, hitting, running,” said freshman defensive end Bo Huff. “I feel really sore the next day.”

Many of Huff’s teammates agree that the amount of work to put in this season is a lot, but they are dedicated.

“We’ve been working extremely hard the whole season,” McCall said, “We even get together in small groups on off-days to practice.”

The Eagles have had practice every day after school and have spent many days in the weight room.

With all the hard work the team has put in, it is finally being acknowledged by their fellow students. Football has been getting more recognition now in the school due to them moving-up in the ranks.

“The overall attitude of the school for our football players is much better than it has been,” Shuford said. “We used to be looked down upon a couple of years ago because we weren’t successful.”

The East student section was moved to be closer to the band, and has been filled to the max at every home game so far this season.

As the season continues, the team, the coaches, and the students all have extremely high hopes for the year.

“As a team we have come so far,” McCall said, “This is the year we are gonna make some noise.”