Experience, transfers have East looking up
By Tom Williams
For his final high school season, East lineman Chris Fitzgerald is ready to win.
“We’re more prepared,” said the Golden Bears four-year starter who has committed to Youngstown State. “It’s a lot different. We’ve got more talent — I think we can accomplish more.”
Wins have been rare during Fitzgerald’s first three seasons. After going 2-8 in 2015, East posted 1-9 seasons the past two years.
“We’ve got seniors ... who have a lot to show,” Fitzgerald said. “And you have people from different schools coming in ... who feel like they have [a lot] to bring to the table.
“There’s great energy.”
Last summer, East head coach Brian Marrow took charge of the Golden Bears right before summer two-a-days began. He feels this year’s team is way ahead.
“Last year was almost like an evaluation year for me,” Marrow said. “Defensive coordinator Chris Amill has added some things.
“Last year, we didn’t have a lot of time, didn’t have any offseason [workouts] with the kids.
Kevin Cylar, once Liberty’s head coach, is the new offensive coordinator. Tamron Smith (former Youngstown State running back) is coaching running backs and special teams, John Thompson has the defensive line and Frank Rutherford the offensive line.
“These guys are being coached well and the kids are responding pretty well,” Marrow said.
The Golden Bears have 17 lettermen back. Joining Fitzgerald up front are returning starters Dawan Martin, Turchan Henderson and Lennie Davenport.
Eddie Bryant is back at tailback and linebacker. Jarail Jenkins also is a returning linebacker.
Two former Warren Harding players will play key roles. Terrance Yeboah, who has verbally committed to Morgan State (FCS), will man the other side of the lines with Fitzgerald.
And Zane Cylar will line up as quarterback. An injury kept him from playing last season.
“I was bummed a little bit,” Cylar said of missing playing. “So I am extremely excited. It’s my senior season.”
Asked if he’s more likely to run or throw, Cylar smiled.
“I’m dynamic, I can do anything,” he said with a smile.
Cylar admitted switching schools last winter wasn’t easy.
“Harding is a nice school [so] it was hard,” Cylar said.
This will be East’s final season in the All-American Conference. Although the schedule is rugged (Harding, Austintown Fitch, Canfield, Poland), Cylar is happy for the challenge.
“I’m happy that we’re those teams because I went to Boardman in middle school and I went to Austintown in elementary school,” Cylar said. “And my Dad coached at Ursuline so it’s like a Homecoming to all those teams.”
Yeboah has been a Youngstown resident so his transition was not as difficult.
“The kids I’m playing with now are the same [ones] I played in little league,” Yeboah said. “So it’s great.”
Yeboah senses that the Golden Bears will no longer be opponents’ easy game.
“I just feel like this is the place to be,” Yeboah said. “I feel, hands down, we have the best D- and O-lines, and that’s the part you need to win games.”
Yeboah will be playing both sides of the ball.
“I really like defense better because I get to hit somebody,” Yeboah said. “That’s the best part.”
Yeboah hopes to major in photography and filmmaking in college.
“I like taking pictures, I want to be able to make music videos and movies,” Yeboah said.
East opens its season on Aug. 24 at Boardman.
Marrow said he can’t say if the defense or offense is in better shape right now.
“We haven’t scrimmaged,” Marrow said. “Most of the time, defense is typically ahead.
“But a lot of our [starters] go both ways, so I’d say [right now] they would be about even.”