published Friday, August 19th, 2011

Football Preview: East Hamilton on verge of surge?

East Hamilton running back Logan Jackson ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, and the Hurricanes are expecting more from everyone this year.
East Hamilton running back Logan Jackson ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, and the Hurricanes are expecting more from everyone this year.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES

Coach: Ted Gatewood (3-17 here, 48-61 overall)

Returning starters (O/D/K): 3/5/1

Remember these names: The Hurricanes expect to get a lot of quality play from defensive ends Mason Galanto (Sr., 5-11, 210) and Francisco Rodriguez (Jr., 6-0, 230), defensive tackle Ricky Caperton (Sr., 5-11, 235), running back Logan Jackson (Jr., 6-0, 205), linebackers Harrison Warren (Jr., 6-0, 195) and Chad Patterson (Sr., 5-10, 195) and quarterback/punter/kicker Christopher Moore (Jr., 5-11, 180).

Will be a memorable year if: The Hurricanes make the playoffs, which would be a school first. And it could be an exceptional year if they meet the expectation of a couple of Gatewood’s peers and win the district. Regardless, it will be a memorable year three weeks into the season when they finally play their first on-campus football game after boarding buses for 22 straight games.

Schedule

Aug. 19 at Signal Mountain

Aug. 26 at Ooltewah

Sept. 2 Central*

Sept. 9 Bradley Central

Sept. 16 Brainerd*

Sept. 30 at East Ridge*

Oct. 7 at Hixson*

Oct. 14 at Tyner*

Oct. 21 Red Bank*

Oct. 28 Howard*

* District 6-AA game

MEMORY LANE

Some of the players on this year’s team were on the field when the Hurricanes secured the school’s first win in their debut season of 2009, 38-18 over Lancaster Christian.

“I remember feeling relief,” Gatewood said. “We were in a tough district and we also had a tough nondistrict schedule. I was glad we got a win in our inaugural season. It was good for the kids to get that experience.”

Galanto, Caperton, Rodriguez and Jackson were among the players on that team.

“There were a couple of good defensive stands that gave us an opportunity, and I remember us trying to maintain our composure when we were having some success,” the coach said.

In coach Ted Gatewood's mind, East Hamilton's first two football seasons were about imparting philosophies and establishing internal expectations in blending students from 13 schools.

He doesn't flinch when the team's two-year 3-17 record is mentioned.

"We try to have a short memory," Gatewood said. "But without a doubt it's time. We're to the point where we need to start showing progress. Some people think it's taboo to talk about winning and losing, but if we take care of our assignments and the things we can control, we can be successful."

At least one opposing coach believes the arrival time is nigh.

"They have depth at every position, a good kicking game and the coaching," said Brainerd's Stanley Jackson.

The Hurricanes also will play at home for the first time, finally getting into a new stadium that was outfitted with lights in the spring and by contract has been guaranteed bleachers by their home and District 6-AA opener against Central on Sept. 2.

East Hamilton played 20 consecutive games elsewhere the past two seasons and will play at Signal Mountain and Ooltewah this year before officially opening the new digs.

The returning-starters list is light, according to Gatewood -- three on offense and five on defense -- but many more players have experience, and the team should benefit greatly from a group that last year went through the freshman league unbeaten.

While he'll depend heavily on a defensive line with numerous returnees, Gatewood has an experienced quarterback in Christopher Moore, who split time last year with Scott Paone, and junior Logan Jackson was a 1,000-yard rusher in the 1-9 season.

"I have no idea about stats," the 6-foot, 185-pound Jackson said. "With me it's more about helping the team and not worrying about myself."

Jackson should be busy continuing that endeavor. He hopes to play at least some in the defensive secondary and return kickoffs and punts, and he envisions improvement.

"We should have a really good defense, and the running game should be pretty good," he said. "The defensive line is already good, and the offensive line is getting better every day. We have a bunch of athletes. I think we'll be more physical than we have been the last two years."

But it's important to play till the final horn, and Jackson hopes that's a lesson the 'Canes have learned.

"We have to finish games," he said. "There were at least three games last year where we were a point or two away [from winning] and could have but didn't."

He had his moments last year, including a 250-yard game that included 200 rushing yards against Hixson.

Joe Wingate, who has reunited with Gatewood -- the two coached together at Ooltewah -- was impressed with Jackson in early workouts.

"He's the type kid that gives great effort. He's a quick learner and he's a leader," Wingate said.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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