By CHRIS HOBBS
Conference: Northwestern Foothills 2A.
Head coach: Marc Buffamoyer (10-35, 4 years at W. Caldwell, record n/a at other 2 jobs as head coach; 0-0 at E. Burke, first year).
Last season’s records: 2-9 overall; 2-6 South Mountain Athletic 2A-3A, tied for sixth place.
Last season’s results: at Hibriten, L 0-56; at Patton, L 18-20; Freedom, L 12-53; E. RUTHERFORD, W 20-10; at BURNS, L 6-42; SHELBY, L 9-49; DRAUGHN, W 20-0; CREST, L 6-53; at R-S CENTRAL, L 7-42; CHASE, L 16-20; at KINGS MOUNTAIN, L 6-49.
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 since 1980, last: 6 (2 outright, 4 shares), 2007 Northwestern 4A (share).
BY THE NUMBERS
Returning starters: 6.
Returning lettermen: 14.
Returning starters: 4.
Leading returning rusher: Josh Moore (16-71, no TDs).
Leading returning passer: Clayton Cook (10-39-7, 106, no TDs).
Leading returning receiver: Ayden Lail (14-148, 1 TD).
Other players to watch: Grant Fulbright (Sr., QB); Jon Palmer (Sr., OL); Josh Langer (Sr., OL); Carter Nichols (Sr., WR); Seth Pruitt (Soph., QB).
Returning starters: 2.
Players to watch: Colby Stroud (Sr., LB); Robert Nicely (Sr., LB); Dylan Norman (Sr., DT); Aaron Leonhardt (Sr., OLB).
Buffamoyer — the Cavs’ defensive coordinator in recent years and a former head coach at West Caldwell, Southside Christian and Berea, S.C. — is optimistic East Burke can have a much improved team. They beat only Draughn and East Rutherford last season.
The Cavs should be able to mix it up on offense better than last season, when they threw for fewer than 500 yards, and Buffamoyer will start either a converted wide receiver, Grant Fulbright, or a promising sophomore, Seth Pruitt, at QB.
A key part of what will ultimately decide what East Burke can get done will be depth and injuries. The Cavs (and who is?) still aren’t deep enough to weather the kind of hurts that contributed to them losing their final four games last season – by a combined 164-35 and going 1-6 over their final seven.
East Burke has had two winning seasons – 8-6 three years ago in retired head coach Tom Brown’s second year in Icard and 8-4 in 2009 under Jim Ruark – since going from class 4A to class 2A in 2009.
The Cavs have a better shot at making something happen in their new league than they did in their old one, the South Mountain Athletic 2A-3A… three years ago, when they went three rounds deep in the playoffs, they were a fourth-place team in the SMAC.
But a winning season? Gonna take some very, very hard work because the front end of the schedule, the non-league games, is loaded with some very good football teams – West Caldwell, Maiden, Freedom and Newton-Conover, the first four, were a combined 30-18.