YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mark Assion begins his second season as East’s head football coach. Last year, began with a 12-8 victory over Shaw in week one. However, the Golden Bears dropped their final seven games to finish the campaign with a 1-7 record.

East has enjoyed just one winning season (2018: 7-4) in the last fourteen years.

With the departure of their big play receiver Mario Wright (62 catches, 611 yards), the offense will look a bit different in 2022 but will still have their junior quarterback Andrew Blackmon at the controls. Blackmon completed 56.9% of his passes (82-144) for 992 yards and 10 touchdowns. Number 7 also led the team in rushing with 562 yards on 64 carries (8.8 avg) and 5 touchdowns.

“Andrew has grown about two inches taller and put on about fifteen pounds [since last fall],” indicates Assion. “He attended the YSU camp [in June] and has worked on his [mobility] and pocket presence. I expect Andrew to be a leader on both sides of the ball and to be a competitive force on the field.”

Sophomore Timothy Howell is expected to be given the opportunity to carry the ball this season for the Golden Bears. Look for senior Thomas Nickerson to receive lots of looks on offense too.

Coach Assion credits Jameel Blake as a tremendous asset not only along the offensive line but on the defensive side as well. “The [offensive] line worked diligently in the weight room throughout the winter and are working on their stances and footwork this early summer [period].”

The defense will be led by senior lineman Akese Waller, who took team-high honors with 78 tackles, 16 for a loss, 3 forced fumbles and 6 quarterback sacks. “Akese is a fantastic athlete,” points out Assion. “He can be very disruptive in both the run and pass game. Akese has a big heart and works to lead the team.”

Joining Waller along the line of scrimmage will be Jameel Blake. Other defensive stalwarts include Andrew Blackmon, Thomas Nickerson and Timothy Howell.

“We’re in the process of revamping the scheme,” states coach Assion. “Other players may step into the limelight as the season progresses. We want to see improvement in attitude and to compete in each and every game.”

The Golden Bears begin the 2022 season on the road at Hubbard on Friday, August 19.

East Golden Bears
Fast Facts
Head Coach: Mark Assion, 2nd season at East (1-7)
2021 Record: 1-7 (0-2), T-3rd place in SVC
Last 5 Years: 13-33 (28.3%)
Home Field: Rayen Stadium
League: Steel Valley Conference
Base Offense: Spread
Base Defense: 4-3

Returning Starters
Offense: 4
Defense: 3

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 11.0 (58th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 40.3 (59th in Area)
Total Offense: 267.5
Rushing Offense: 132.4
Passing Offense: 135.1

2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Andrew Blackmon – 992 yards, 56.9% (82-144), 10 TDs
Rushing: Andrew Blackmon – 562 yards, 8.8 avg, 5 TDs
Receiving: Mario Wright – 611 yards, 9.9 avg, 6 TDs
Tackles: Akese Waller – 78
Quarterback Sacks: Akese Waller – 6
Interceptions: Nick Grier – 2

2021 Results
Chaney 40 Golden Bears 8
Ursuline 48 Golden Bears 6
Canfield 35 Golden Bears 16
Boardman 62 Golden Bears 14
Ellet 34 Golden Bears 26
Niles 40 Golden Bears 14
Harding 55 Golden Bears 0
Golden Bears 12 Shaw 8

2021 Steel Valley Conference
Ursuline – 2-0 (11-4)
Chaney – 2-0 (4-5)
East – 0-2 (1-7)
Cardinal Mooney – 0-2 (1-9)

2022 Schedule
Aug. 19 – at Hubbard
Aug. 26 – at Shaw
Sept. 2 – Villa Angela-St. Joseph
Sept. 9 – at Ellet
Sept. 17 – Boardman
Sept. 23 – Cardinal Mooney
Sept. 30 – Howland
Oct. 7 – Canfield
Oct. 14 – at Ursuline
Oct. 21 – at Chaney