By CHRIS HOBBS
EAST BURKE CAVALIERS
Conference: Northwestern Foothills 2A.
Head coach: Mark Buffamoyer (12-44, 5 years; 2-9 at E. Burke, 1 year).
Last season’s records: 2-9 overall; 1-5 Northwestern Foothills 2A, tied for fifth place.
Last season’s results: W. Caldwell, L 0-35; at Maiden, L 6-50; at Freedom, L 8-48; Newton-Conover, L 6-44; W. Lincoln, W 32-26 OT; W. IREDELL, L 14-26; at PATTON, L 0-63; BUNKER HILL, L 26-44; at HIBRITEN, L 15-62; FOARD, L 6-49; at DRAUGHN, W 21-12.
SCHOOL FOOTBALL HISTORY
Last season in state playoffs: 2015, 2AA.
Last state playoff victory: 2015, d. W. Stokes 27-21, second round.
All-time state playoff bids: 17.
Conference titles (or shares) since 1980, last: 6, 2007 Northwestern 4A (share).
BY THE NUMBERS
Returning starters: 9.
Returning lettermen: 10.
Returning starters: 5.
Leading returning rusher: Josh Moore, 5-9, 155, Jr. (152-465, 7 TDs).
Leading returning passer: Seth Pruitt, 5-11, 182, Jr. (23-68-5, 451, 3 TDs).
Leading returning receiver: Brett Childers, 5-7, 145, Jr. (5-59, no TDs).
Other key returnees: Chase Childers, 5-9, 160, RB, Jr.; Jaylan Jefferson, 5-11, 145, WR, Sr.; Ricky Sexton, 5-11, 160, OL, Jr.; Matthew Vue, 5-8, 240, OL, Soph.; Noah Rooks, 6-1, 270, OL, Soph.; Hunter Bostain, 5-10, 215, OL, Jr.; Shane Keen, 6-0, 263, OL, Sr.; Chase Lowman, 6-2, 215, OL, Jr.; Dakota Trivette, 6-0, n/a, OL, Jr.
Top newcomers: Brandon Icard, 5-6, 160, RB, Jr.; Luke Cline, 6-3, 210, WR, Sr. (missed last season with injury).
Set: 4-3 and/or 4-4 with variations.
Returning starters: 4.
Players to watch: Chase Childers, 5-9, 160, Safety-OLB, Jr.; Brett Childers, 5-7, 145, OLB, Jr.; Raelen Lo, 5-6, 160, ILB, Jr.; Dalton Teague, 5-7, n/a, ILB, Soph.; Noah Rooks, 6-1, 270, DL, Soph.; Josh Moore, 5-9, 155, DB, Jr.; Brandon Icard, 5-6, 160, DB, Jr.; Jaylan Jefferson, 5-11, 145, Safety, Sr.
The Cavs have a nucleus back – primarily RB Josh Moore, QB Seth Pruitt and WR Brett Childers – that should allow them to improve offensively and overall after winning only twice last season (over West Lincoln in OT and at Draughn in the season finale).
There are nine starters returning, five in East Burke’s Wing-T offense, and one focus the Cavs have is to throw the ball more and better this season. A year ago, when they used multiple QBs, Pruitt threw only 68 times and for 451 yards and three scores.
Pruitt will be the guy behind center this season after having made at least one start as a freshman and sophomore.
Moore and WBs Brett Childers and Chase Childers combined to provide East Burke nearly 900 rushing yards with the majority of that coming from Moore, and a RB up from the junior varsity (Brandon Icard) is now added to that mix.
Receiving-wise, the Cavs have moved senior Jaylan Jefferson from defense to WR. He played JV football with Pruitt as a WR.
The Cavs have a core group of seven players to man the offensive and defensive line and have some decent size with Noah Rooks (6-foot-1, 270 pounds) and Shane Keen (6-0, 263).
Overall, East Burke’s numbers are down – a roster of 30 – and factors in the Cavs’ fate will be whether or not they can stay healthy, whether they can they can boost their scoring by significant amounts (12.1 points per game last season) and if they can develop a passing game that makes them more than one dimensional on offense.
The Cavs are 26-60 over the previous eight years and eight of those wins and their last playoff bid came in 2015 when they found a groove – especially offensively – and were the last state playoff team coached by retired head coach Tom Brown.