Last season, ESD had its depth tested a little sooner than expected. Due to some injuries at some key positions, the Eagles were forced to plug some holes with younger players. The result was a rollercoaster campaign that saw ESD finish well out of playoff contention in the newly realigned SPC.
However, as the Eagles prepare for the 2017 campaign, those youngsters who were thrown into the varsity fire a year ago now have a valuable year of seasoning. With that comes room for optimism.
“We’d like to build off that because now those guys have a lot of experience,” said ESD head coach Richard Williams. “We lost some key players, but that happens every year.”
Indeed, the Eagles must replace all-around star Nakeie Montgomery and quarterback Seth Washington, who led the high-powered ESD offense for the past two years.
Among the top returnees is Patrick Skalniak, who filled in at quarterback last season when Washington was injured and also was a standout as a receiver and defensive back. He broke his own school record for interceptions in a season with 11, and also established a new single-game mark with 268 receiving yards in the season finale against rival St. Mark’s.
Although there’s an ongoing competition for the starting quarterback spot, Ben Taber is a massive anchor for the line, and Robert Tolbert is a hard-hitting linebacker.
“We have more talent that we can spread around,” Williams said. “We have a lot of younger guys who are coming up. Our goal is to contend for an SPC championship.”