“We’re trying to be the best East football team we can be,” he said. “If that means we can beat teams like Elizabethton and Greeneville on Friday night, yay. But more importantly, are we getting the most out of our kids and are they giving us the most for Patriot Nation on Friday night? That’s what it’s all about.”
The Patriots plan to ride the arm and legs of third-year starter Dylan White at quarterback. His experience gives East a chance to be good on offense.
“One of the things that helps us in practice is he knows what we want to do before we tell him,” said Locke. “He knows the offense and has a leadership role. He has good arm strength, and I think if we give him some time he will make good decisions and put us in the right spot.”
Protecting White will be an offensive line that Locke said has potential.
“We don’t have the size we had last year, but we’ve made up for it in quickness,” he said. “We have to be good technicians. I think we have the potential to be very good up front.”
On the left side are tackle Jett Jones and guard Cameron Tolbert. Dylan Lopez is at center while tackle Nate Hunter and guard Nicholas Sakellar are on the right side. Owen Laprade is battling with Sakellar for that spot.
Zechariah Steinmann is also in the mix.
Clayton Ivester and Chet Bryant will handle the tight end duties.
Hoping to benefit from that line will be running backs like Mason Hayworth, Hunter Brown and Dustyn Knittel. Fullback Eric Hare is also in the mix along with Thor Poe.
“Mason has really good speed in the open field,” said Locke. “Knittel has been a real surprise for us. And when Poe learns to run behind his pads, he will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Locke said he has a good crop of veteran receivers, including Lake Mullins, Blake Scher, Seth Chafin and Tanner McCracken.
“We have some guys we can throw it to,” said Locke.
Hunter Brown will also be in that mix, catching passes out of the backfield or from a slot receiver position.
Defensively, the Patriots will rely on Ivester, Nate Hunter, Steinmann and Jones on the front line. Poe, Bryant and Sakellar should also help.
Hare heads the inside linebacker group with help from Tolbert, Laprade, Eli Richardson and Mason Arrington. On the outside are Knittel and Chafin along with Arrington. White may also see a few snaps defensively.
The secondary is locked down by Brown, Hawyorth, Mullins and Scher.
“They will get the lion’s share of the load,” said Locke.
Martin Hamelryck will handle most of the place-kicking duties with White and Ivester at punter.