ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) –The East E-Rabs made the most of the short spring football season. They left their mark by winning their half of the NIC-10 and winding up in the conference championship game. The E-Rabs might have just been warming up.
Yes, the E-Rabs still feel the momentum of their run in March and April, despite the lopsided loss they absorbed at the end against Harlem. “I think we have a lot of momentum, “said East safety Shamar Holt. “We’ve been working really, hard this summer, and I think we’re going to come back this season better than last season.”
“Everybody wants to be part of a winning team,” said East coach Garry Griffin. “People want to play sports when teams are winning, but I tell our guys all the time if football was easy everybody would do it. It’s not easy. It’s a lot of work.”
The E-Rabs have been putting the work in, and boy do they have some talent returning including a slew of running backs.
So which E-Rab will lead the conference in rushing this year?
“Javius Catlin,” said Griffin.
Javius Catlin is a sophomore. All he did as a freshman in the spring was average almost 11 yards a carry and gain 423 yards. He was second in the conference in rushing behind only his teammate CJ Berry, but Catlin will be sharing touches with several other backs including another sophomore Deterrace Dotson. Dotson also broke some big runs in the spring.
Griffin has nothing but high praise for the sophomore duo. “These two young guys, their vision, their pad level, their balance is very special. It’s going to be can we keep them both happy? And then we still have three other guys that have to get the ball.”
One of them is senior fullback Kingston Haugabook.
“We’ve got a great coaching system. We’ve got a lot of great backs, so we know how to rotate on and off, so it shouldn’t be a problem,” said Haugabook.
On the offense line East graduated all-state honorable mention Jason Stroberg, but the other four starters on the line are all back, and 6’1 270 pound guard Calvin Cardenas has transferred in from Jefferson to join that group.
(Adam Marshall, Center) “I feel like the line can get it done this year,” said center Adam Marshall. “I feel like us as a whole we added one more I think that was the part we were missing.”
Another plus for the offense is the return of quarterback Ryan Larson. He missed all of the spring season after tearing his ACL during basketball season.
The defense has some playmakers too. Tyress Cunningham was a first team all-conference lineman. Joey Pineda and Joseph Holloway also stood out on the line. Daireus Sago stood out at outside linebacker, and Shamar Holt was probably the best safety in the area. It’s like he was born to play the position.
“I love it. It’s just great. I can run around, I like to run. Run all over the field and make big plays for my team.”