Eastern opens season Friday against Springs Valley

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Caleb Hamilton (35) catches a short pass last season. Hamilton will probably start at quarterback when Eastern ventures to Springs Valley at 7:00 p.m. Friday.
By Andrew Bowen

Which bird will be superior when the final whistle blows Friday night?

Eastern travels to Springs Valley at 7:00 p.m. Friday in the season opener for both football teams.

Last year, the Thunderbirds blitzed Springs Valley twice, beating the Blackhawks 34-6 in the 2016 season opener and trouncing them 41-7 in the first round of the sectional.

A new coach, Mark Hammond, guides Springs Valley, and Eastern coach Joey Paridaen said the Blackhawks have made some changes on both sides of the ball from the film he’s seen of last week’s scrimmage He said it’s hard to determine a great deal about the team, which had a 4-6 mark last year, since there’s little film available. However, he said the Blackhawks are going to run a wing offense similar to the one Linton uses.

“They’ve changed some things offensively and defensively,” Paridaen said.

He said Springs Valley returns a dangerous quarterback in Braden Whitaker, who can both run and pass the ball (1177 yards through the air last year). He said the Thunderbirds are going to have pressure Whitaker and keep him uncomfortable in the pocket. However, the Thunderbirds cannot let him out of the pocket, Paridaen said, as he can beat a team with his feet.

Whitaker has two good weapons in Wyatt Purkhiser, a good, quick receiver who caught 27 passes for 419 yards last year, and Ryan Tow, four receptions for 45 yards, who has some size.

“He’s definitely got some speed and some weapons to throw to,” Paridaen said.

Senior Caleb Hamilton will probably start at quarterback for Eastern, Paridaen said. He added Nick Fox, Blayne Campbell, and maybe fullback Levi Southern will take turns running the ball against the Blackhawks.

Last year, Hamilton completed 22 of 36 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Paridaen said he’s worked over the summer to improve his passing game.

“He’s put on some strength. He’s a big, strong kid,” Paridaen said. “He just needs to improve his accuracy and his reads, and that’s what he’s been working on over the summer.”

The Blackhawks only have 36 players on their roster, Paridaen said and many will take the field on both sides of the ball. Paridaen said Springs Valley fields a small, quick team, and the Thunderbirds must use their greater size to beat them down.

“They don’t have a lot of size,” he said, “but they do have speed and quickness on both sides of the ball. Hopefully, we can get the team worn down by the third or fourth quarter.”

Paridaen said both teams will be eager to get the season rolling.

“They’ll be ready to come out to play,” he said. “It’s always a new experience as you never know what to expect. I’m sure they’ll be fired up and be ready to play some good football.”

The Thunderbirds will be fairly healthy for Friday’s game.

“We feel good about where we are right now,” Paridaen said. “We have some bumps and bruises, but we’re pretty healthy.”

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