Sunday, August 20, 2017
By Tom Williams
Change is in the air at East High School. The school’s mascot has changed from Panthers to Golden Bears and Brian Marrow has taken over as head coach.
Marrow was the head coach for eight seasons at Valley Christian before taking season off. He missed the games and players.
“I wasn’t missing this,” said Marrow, laughing at a recent practice about preseason preparations. Instead, he was spending more time with Valencia, his wife for 32 years, and getting projects done around the house.
When summer arrived, it appeared Marrow would sit out another season. That all changed a month ago when Rick Shepas took over Youngstown City Schools athletics and wanted Marrow as East’s head coach.
“I thought about it and prayed about it. It’s something I think I should be doing,” Marrow said “It’s God’s calling on me that I should be doing something like this.”
He’s not the only new high profile coaching addition. Chris Amill, Cardinal Mooney’s defensive coordinator for many seasons, is running East’s defense.
Marrow has eight players returning with starting experience on offense and defense.
The Golden Bears will run a multiple set offense.
Chris Fitzgerald (three-year starter) and Will Howard return to anchor the line. Mike Lawrence, who took some snaps last year at quarterback, will be the tailback.
“It’s actually good to have coach who has already been to where we want to be,” Lawrence said. “This team this year will be a playoff contender so it’s good to have a coach who has actually been there.
“And Coach Amill has been to several [state] championship games.”
Also running the ball will be Jawan Showers and Marcus Finkley. Thomas Steele returns at quarterback. His targets will include Carlos Jones and Ilijah Donley.
Fitzgerald and Howard will be up front while Finkley and Mikese Stevens will be linebackers. Jones will lead the secondary.
Jones said the coaching change caught him “off guard a little bit, but I was excited about it.
“I have a little bit more faith — not a lot of people believe in us. So it feels good to have somebody around who actually believes in our talents.”
East’s schedule is rugged. After opening with Boardman, the Golden Bears will play Ursuline. Fitch, Howland and Warren Harding come later.
Marrow said he’s not interested in how well the team will do in future seasons.
“A lot of people in the community are happy [for the future],” Marrow said.
He’s been told, “Coach, we know you’re gonna have a reputation for doing this.”
Marrow said his seniors deserve better.
“My message to the kids is that [future talk is] not fair to the seniors this year,” he said. “If you are a senior, do you want to hear that in two or three years we’re going to be good when they’ve been getting their teeth kicked in that last three years?
“So I’m working my tail off to make sure that the seniors get some fun.”