The Lincolnton football coaching staff knew it had a young team on its hands before it played a single down this year.
But they didn’t know just how young until the third week of the season, when the Wolves opened Southern Piedmont Conference play at Lake Norman Charter.
The game was the first varsity start in the career of 5-foot-9, 190 lb. freshman quarterback Jordon Easter. Easter, a straight-A and honor student in his first year at Lincolnton, was pulled up from the junior varsity squad after the Wolves, known for their run game, averaged 108 rushing yards and 8.5 points per game through the first two weeks of the season.
Easter helped spark the Wolves to their current five-game win streak and the first playoff win of his high school career last week at Wilkes Central. Easter ran for 92 yards and three touchdowns in the Wolves’ 41-21 first-round win.
“When I hit the field,” Easter said of his first playoff experience, “the atmosphere was just crazy.”
Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger said he can’t remember a time when a freshman quarterback started for the Wolves. He said that sophomore defensive end Darian Roseboro was one of the youngest players to reach the varsity team when he started as a freshman on last year’s senior-heavy team.
“Roseboro was really one of the few freshmen that we’ve ever had at Lincolnton starting on varsity as early as he did,” Cloninger said. “This is the first freshman quarterback I’ve ever seen. Easter has done a wonderful job. He’s mature enough physically and mentally to take what they’re getting on Friday nights. It’s tough, but he’s stepped up and played hard.”
Easter leads the Wolves in rushing yards with 165 carries for 647 yards and is second on the team in rushing touchdowns with seven. His best offensive performance of the year so far came against Cherryville in Week 8, with 112 rushing yards and a touchdown and 111 passing yards and a touchdown.
Easter, who turned 14 years old in July, said he felt the way any young person might feel when Cloninger told him he would be playing on Friday nights.
“When he told me I was moving up I was excited,” Easter said, “but I was more nervous than anything. I was ready; I get nervous before every game.”
The Easter name is well known in Lincolnton football circles. His father, Haywood Easter, Jr., and an uncle were both standout running backs in the 1980s under Cloninger. Bobby Joe Easter, a Lincolnton legend from the 1960s, is a cousin.
“I’ve coached the Easters, and now their sons,” Cloninger said. “That was one of the names for a long time at Lincolnton — the Easters. We go different places and people ask you, ‘Are there any more Easters there?’ We love to see them come through.”
Cloninger said Easter has been an eager student of Lincolnton’s double-wing, triple option offense.
“This is not an easy offense to run,” he said. “He’s still making mistakes, we all do. He’s learning. He’s very receptive to compliments and he’s very receptive when I chew on him a little bit. He’s listening, and that’s the most important thing. If he’ll listen, we can teach him.”
The Wolves are focused on preparing for Friday’s second-round game at Thomasville, but Cloninger said he knows that future prospects look good for Lincolnton.
“We’re playing with sophomore running backs and sophomore defensive players,” he said. “The future is bright. A good thing for all of those young people is that there are colleges coming to watch Roseboro play, and when they come they get to see the rest of them. We sent nine players to college after last year. That’s one of our goals here at Lincolnton — to play well and win games but, also, we can get these young people scholarships and that’s great.”