New faces are in charge of ECHS Football for the upcoming 2016 season but the phrase "EC Pride" that was shouted from the Wildcats huddle in yesterday's practice is still ringing loud and clear.
First year head coach Nathan Smith and his coaching staff have been hard at work with this team ever since he was named head coach in January of this year. A young coaching staff will lead young Wildcats as underclassmen make up the bulk of this year's team with only seven seniors. Smith, who is 27 years old, leads a staff made up of Josh Childs, Kyle Culbreth, Austin Meredith, Richard Burton, and Ethan Stice, all ranging from ages 22 to 31. Long time coach Wyn Caudill and other volunteer coaches will be helping as well.
This year's team will be without seven seniors from last year and coach Smith said that will mostly affect the linemen situation.
"We definitely lost some of our offensive and defensive line from last year and they'll be sorely missed until some of the younger guys step up and figure out their roles," Smith said.
Smith said the team will be relying on senior Daniel Caudill for leadership as well as taking large roles in both offensive and defensive production.
"He's going to have to be a workhorse for us. We really need him to do quite a bit, honestly."
The coach also mentioned younger players that will be faced with plenty of responsibility, like the returning quarterback from last season, junior Tucker Cole. "Tucker has bulked up 30 pounds or so from last year, so that's going to help," he said. "We need him to really throw the ball this year, so we hope he's ready."
The team will also look for Logan Hagan, a 6'5", 370 pound sophomore lineman to lead things on the line. "The kid is huge. We honestly need him to do all he can take."
When Coach Smith was asked what would he say if the team's first game was tonight, he and the other coaches chuckled and said "Wow..." Smith leaned back in his chair with a grin.
"Well, I'm glad it's not," he said. "We still have lots of things to work on, especially with only 11 more practices till our first scrimmage with Allen County (Aug 11 at home). But we're working hard."
He said the heat and humidity have not affected team workouts too awfully bad, as practices have been scheduled in the evenings at sundown. He said they've kept the team hydrated while allowing plenty of breaks.
The season will kickoff on the road at Caverna on Friday, August 19, 2016. "We're working hard," Smith said again. "We're doing our best. Everybody's committed and these guys have been here everyday. That's all you can ask out of them."
You can listen to all football games live this season on your home for Wildcat Sports, "WildcatsLive" with Scott Lindsey and Bryan Thompson.