Aug. 24—The East Newton Patriots finished the 2022 campaign with a 0-10 record. The Patriots had just five seniors on the roster and started six freshmen and sophomores on both sides of the ball.
As they look to improve in 2023, growth from those returning starters will be a key.
"We need to be students of the game," head coach Tom Ellis said. "As a young team, our football IQ needs to improve. We must continue to strive to improve and compete week in and week out."
Ellis also describes his team as a "tight-knit group" and one that works hard while being "coachable."
Returning starters for East Newton include seniors Haze Hagedon (OL/DL), Noah Hood (TE/LB), Eden Enlow (TE/LB) and Jesson Morales (RB/DB). Juniors Braxton Wolfe (WR/DB), Cayden Larsen (WR/DB), Will Eichelberger (DB/WR) and Ian Dover (OL/LB) also return from the starting lineup. Sophomores Will Earl (OL/DL), Alan McFarland (LB), River Enlow (DB/WR) and Caden Youngblood (WR/P) also started last year as freshmen.
Hagedon enters his third season starting on the line on both sides of the ball. Wolfe is returning after being the team's leading rusher in 2022. He led a team that averaged 140 rushing yards per game last year.
Eichelberger is returning as a starting defensive back but Ellis also anticipates he will be the starting quarterback this year. Dover will be returning this year from an ACL injury.
East Newton has a group of newcomers that Ellis said he expects to contribute this year.
The first of the bunch is a junior transfer, Aiden Engle. Engle looks to play on both sides of the ball and is currently slated as a running back, linebacker and defensive lineman.
Isaac Bales could also see some action at the running back and linebacker positions this year as a junior. Sophomores Tanner Woods, Darryan Moore and Aiden Hood could also get important snaps for the Patriots. Woods is another potential running back and linebacker while Moore and Hood expect to play on the offensive and defensive lines.
The elder Hood added his thoughts on the team as he prepares for his final season at the prep level.
"I am looking forward to this season because many of our upcoming players have put in the work in the offseason," he said. "We are excited for the progress we've made since last year."
Aug. 25: vs. Logan-Rogersville
Aug. 31: at Hollister
Sept. 8: vs. Nevada
Sept. 15: at Cassville
Sept. 22: vs. Lamar
Sept. 29: at Monett
Oct. 6: vs. Seneca
Oct. 13: vs. Aurora
Oct. 20: at McDonald County