Improve. It’s a word that is usually easier said than done. It’s also the motto for the Austin-East football team this season.
“That’s our biggest thing is improve,” head coach Jeff Phillips said. “If you threw two touchdowns or if you made 10 tackles, just improve.”
Phillips, who is entering his sixth season with Austin-East has been blessed with successful quarterbacks. Darius Harper, who signed with Coastal Carolina out of high school, was replaced by Army signee Chris Hunter last season. It’s now Trey Foster’s job to lead the Roadrunner’s offense.
“It’s not really a big transition because I’ve been getting reps in practice,” Foster said. The only thing that’s going to be big is in games and having that pressure but I think I’m ready for it.”
Austin-East’s (5-1, 10-3) run in 2017 came to an end in the 3A quarterfinals, falling to eventual state champion Alcoa 34-14.
“That’s what made us focus more on discipline,” Austin-East senior running back and linebacker Chris Stevenson said. “Having over 13 penalties really hurt us so we’re trying to see if we could maybe if we cut those penalties will have a better chance.”
The Roadrunners also came up short against Alcoa three weeks prior in the Region 2-3A championship game. Phillips is hoping an earlier opponent on the Roadrunners’ schedule will help them prepare for the Tornados.
After Brainerd backed out of its Week 2 game against Austin-East, Phillips received a phone call from Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio.
“I thought, ‘why not?’,” Phillips said. “This will be a good opportunity to play in front of 10 college football coaches that have already signed on to actually be at that game and so it’s a great opportunity for our kids to play a talented team and it will get us ready for that playoff run and the last game of the year against Alcoa and also against our rival Fulton.”
Austin-East returns eight starters on defense, including two-time All-State safety Isaiah Ligon.
|Fri.||Aug. 17||7:30 PM||Gibbs|
|Fri.||Aug. 24||7:00 PM||at Wayne (OH)|
|Fri.||Aug. 31||7:30 PM||at Kingston|
|Fri.||Sep. 7||7:30 PM||at Fulton|
|Fri.||Sep. 21||7:30 PM||Halls|
|Fri.||Sep. 28||7:30 PM||Scott|
|Fri.||Oct. 5||7:30 PM||Gatlinburg-Pittman|
|Thu.||Oct. 11||7:30 PM||at Pigeon Forge|
|Fri.||Oct. 19||7:30 PM||Northview Academy|
|Fri.||Oct. 26||7:30 PM||Alcoa|