Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Keeping up with East Rowan football …
For East Rowan senior Shawn Eagle, football was more of a job than an adventure last year.
He’s much happier heading into this season after new coach Brian Hinson installed him as the starting quarterback.
And not just because it’s the glamour position.
“It’s awesome because I love being the leader, and I’ve been a quarterback most of my life,” Eagle said. “I’m back at the position now where everything is natural to me.”
Employed as a running back last season after transferring to East from South Rowan, Eagle rushed 104 times for a team-high 440 yards and turned in a serviceable effort for former coach Jim Crawley.
“But last year it felt like a job to me, and I almost hated going to practice each day,” Eagle said. “Now it’s fun for me again, and football is supposed to be fun.”
Eagle is a very good basketball player, but he may have a higher ceiling in football. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, he has ideal quarterback size. He also has a good arm, deceptive speed, plenty of confidence, and he’s in the best shape he’s been in for some time.
“I was kinda getting a little wide last year,” he said. “But I’ve been lifting a lot, and I’ve thinned out some from all the running.”
With Eagle at the controls and new tailback Thomas Lowe, East’s offense has a chance to make strides.
Wayne Parker, who played quarterback last year, is also back and too good an athlete not to be on the field.
Parker, an accomplished wrestler and pole vaulter, will see action as a receiver and defensive back, and the move should benefit his future. His best chance to play at the next level is probably as a receiver.
ALIVE AND KICKING: Soccer player Kenny Barnes is expected to handle field goals, PATs and probably kickoffs for the Mustangs.
“I’m Ben Erdman,” the always humorous Barnes said.
CHANGEUP: Hinson candidly used the word “horrendous” to describe East’s offensive production in 2006. East scored a grand total of 21 points in six CPC games, and things hit rock bottom in a 3-0 loss at South Rowan. Everyone believes former Catawba standout Hinson will make a great head coach, but his specific area of expertise ó the offensive line ó was a sore spot for the Mustangs each of the past two seasons.
“That’s really been our weakness,” Hinson admitted. “I remember joking to our defensive coordinator last year that if we could just keep our offense off the field we had a chance.
“So I made an executive decision and got Gary Bass to handle the offensive line. He’s making a big difference, and we have a good group of seniors that see this is their last chance to get something done.”
Bass was playing on the O-line for Catawba just two years ago. He spent last season coaching back home at McDowell County.
Hinson said the O-line, which got a head start in the offseason, is on the right track, but East needs to get everyone healthy.
Sophomore Nathan Robbins, who will probably be the center, and big veteran C.J. Gordy, who is moving from center to right guard, were on the sidelines on Tuesday.
Gordy said a calcium deposit from a previous broken arm had been acting up, but he anticipated returning to the field soon.
SHRINE COMBINE: Gordy and Josh Patch attended a Shrine Bowl combine held in Snow Hill this summer.
Patch is an imposing physical specimen and brings to mind Matt Butler, the strapping, former Salisbury horse who now starts for East Carolina.
Patch will go both ways for the Mustangs at defensive end and left guard.
DIESEL: Ben DeCelle will play offense, defense and special teams. His 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Rowan last season provided one of East’s rare highlights when it had the football.
DeCelle will play safety on defense and slot receiver on offense. In his free time, he’ll return kicks.
“The coaches have kicked our butts in the weight room in the offseason,” DeCelle said. “It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life, but it’s been fun.”
STILL CHASING: Always aggressive Chase Burris leads the linebacking corps.
“If you’re in a fight, Chase is the guy you want on your side,” Hinson said. “Pound for pound, Chase is as tough as any kid in the county.”
NEW CODY: Offensive lineman Cody Trexler rarely got on the field in 2006, but the undersized scrapper has been the surprise of camp.
“I’m as proud of Cody as anyone we have in the program,” Hinson said. “In the last year, he’s done a complete 180 on the field and in the classroom.”