YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On December 21, East hired Mark Assion as the Golden Bears’ head football coach.
Assion was Jackson-Milton’s head coach for nine years before resigning in 2017. The Cardinal Mooney graduate led the Blue Jays to their first playoff appearance in 2015.
“Being in the City of Youngstown,” Assion said. “We, as a staff, are trying to build expectations to get daily attendance at practice. We want them to buy into the schemes, and develop young men of character and responsibility. We expect to compete every time we step between the lines. We expect the Golden Bears to act accordingly in any situation they find themselves.”
The East staff is looking to snap an eight-game losing streak which began in November 2019.
“It’s vital that the upperclassmen buy-in and lead the younger players as role models,” Assion said. “Success eluded the Golden Bears last fall and COVID did not make practice or games any easier, but we’re trying collectively to better ourselves each day. We are competing every practice. The upperclassmen will set the tone for our success this summer and into the fall.”
East opens the season Friday, August 20 with a home contest with the Shaw Cardinals.
Previewing East’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 8.1 (57th in area)
Returning Starters: 4
Key Returnees: Frank Harris, SR/RB; Robert Higgs, SR/OL; Delonta Kalaskey, SR/OL
Key Losses: Knowledge Matlock, OL; Reuben Talley, WR; DJ Waller, ATH
Name to watch for: Robert Higgs & Delonta Kalaskey, OL
The Golden Bear offensive attack saw a dip from the previous year as East was able to manage just 8.1 points per game compared to 23.6 points in 2019.
As a freshman, Andrew Blackmon completed 47% of his 117 passing attempts (55-117) for 650 yards and 3 scores.
Blackmon will be in competition with senior Raveon Carter and sophomore Nazier Howard for the starting quarterback role.
“It’ll be interesting to see how this battle plays out,” Assion said. “At wideout, Mario Wright (senior transfer from Chaney) has been excellent. He’s a fierce competitor and tremendous route runner who longs to make big plays.”
Luther Bell and IJ Jackson are expected to be in line for touches as well.
The team returns two starters up front in seniors Robert Higgs and Delonta Kalaskey.
Previewing East’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 27.7 (43rd in area)
Returning Starters: 3
Key Returnees: Frank Harris, SR/DB; Robert Higgs, SR/DL; Willie Jones, SR/LB-DL
Key Losses: Jamez Brooks, LB; Shawn Cain, DL; Vincent Steele, DL
Name to watch for: Frank Harris, DB-LB
East’s defense played well against a handful of teams that finished with a winning record. The Golden Bear defense allowed 27.7 points per game and was able to hold its opponents to four touchdowns or less in four games. That included its Week 3 matchup with Mooney, when the Cardinals came away with a 7-0 decision.
The team will be without Vincent Steele and Shawn Cain along the defensive front. Cain finished his senior year with 65 tackles (10 for a loss) and 6 quarterback sacks.
Defensive lineman Robert Higgs will anchor the front line. Frank Harris – a versatile defensive back, who also can play linebacker, will be a spark plug for the defensive unit. Linebackers Rayeon Carter and Mario Wright are a couple of hardworking players who should contribute on that side of the ball.
2020 SVC Standings
Ursuline – 3-0 (7-3)
Chaney – 2-1 (3-6)
Mooney – 1-2 (2-6)
East – 0-3 (0-7)