DENVER — The East Lincoln Mustangs varsity football team plays Burns for the fourth time in the Cleveland County Jamboree at Crest High School on Friday. The Mustangs have a 2-1 record in the teams’ previous meetings. The scrimmage is the first time the 2012-2013 Mustangs will take on an opponent this season, but the team is anchored by several key seniors in leadership positions who aren’t lacking in game time experience.
Quarterback Garrett Young passed for 2,312 yards and 29 touchdowns last year during his junior season, and said the Mustangs have looked strong since practices began eight days ago.
“Everyone is working hard,” he said. “We’re making each other better. That will benefit us when the season starts.”
Young has several familiar targets at wide receiver, including Jesse Earnhardt, Tyler Brock and Damisho Finandis. Earnhardt caught 39 passes for 474 yards and five touchdowns last year, making him Young’s third-favorite receiver for East Lincoln’s 7-5 season. Antwaine McLean led the team with 904 yards, followed by Marcus “Bubba” McDowell’s 499 yards. Brock had 142 receiving yards and two touchdowns last year, while Finandis had six receptions for 69 yards.
The Mustangs are working on finding someone to fill the gap left by the graduation of McDowell, East Lincoln’s leading ball carrier last year with 1,852 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. East Lincoln head coach Mike Byus tagged senior Marquis Pharr as the new starting running back. Byus said Pharr, at 5 foot 6 inches and 155 pounds, has physical talent but has to learn some of the finer points of the running game.
“He’s very agile and his straight ahead speed is good, his quickness is good,” Byus said. “He has to learn to follow his blockers and be secure with the football. He’s always going 100 miles per hour. Sometimes you have to slow down. There are so many times that I’ll watch a play and the offensive line will open up at the right time and the running back will hit it at the right time and I’ll say ‘that was perfectly slow.’”
Pharr had 34 carries last year for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Young said he was learning how to work with his new running backs after working effortlessly with McDowell last year.
“You have to get the timing and footwork down with the different running backs,” he said. “Me and Bubba were very fluid, it was routine to us. But that will all come.”