YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A new era begins for the East football program this fall.
Mark Assion is the Golden Bears’ new head coach.
He previously served as head coach at Jackson-Milton for nine seasons, leading the Blue Jays to their first playoff appearance in program history. It’s success he hopes to bring back to East.
“Well, I think what we’re gonna bring is a little bit of discipline, a little bit of structure,” Assion said. “With our system and our scheme, I think it’ll be beneficial to the kids. We’re real quick paced, and everything just kinda flows. I think this fits our type of athlete that we have over here real well. “
“I’m excited because Coach puts a lot of effort to everything,” said sophomore quarterback Drew Blackmon. “He makes sure that everybody is together. Do everything right. Even if we’ve gotta go over it more than once, we make sure that everything is right. It’s why we’re gonna make it far this year with Coach Assion.”
WIth 42 players out for the team, the Golden Bears are blessed with speed… and lots of it. East will run a fast-paced, no-huddle attack, with Frank Harris expected to play a big role on offense.
Blackmon is back at quarterback after starting the last four games a season ago.
Mario Wright is also a big play waiting to happen at wide receiver.
“I am really excited,” Wright said. “I’m ready to prove to everybody. I didn’t have any varsity experience yet. Nobody really believed in me yet. So I’m pretty excited.”
“It’s very important for me to come here and play for them,” Blackmon added. “I just want to represent my school, my city, and show them what I can do. I want to show them that East can be better than any other year.”
“First and foremost, the message has gotta be that we’re gonna play with a lot of heart and a lot of speed and a lot of passion for the game,” Assion explained. “When I say speed, we have it all over the place. If we’re not gonna be using our speed on defense, you better be using it on offense and in the special teams game. We hope to be real well-rounded and put forth a great effort.”
Helping the cause is a pair of big bodies on the line. That includes senior Robert Higgs, who will anchor things up front at guard and nose guard.
Higgs is joined by mammoth blocker Jameel Blake up front, who will also help pave the way.
“Offense, we’ve been working. Defense, we’ve been working. Everybody is gonna be surprised when they see us this year,” Blackmon said.
“Once we come together as a team, nobody around here could really stop us. As long as we all come together,” Wright said.
East will open the season on Friday, August 20 at home against Shaw.
“To be honest with you, I’m kinda even-keeled right now,” Assion revealed. “I don’t want to temper my expectations too high, but I don’t want to get them too low either. I’m trying to stay level. We’ve got some great athletes over here and some great linemen. I think it’s just a matter of time before we put it together.”