By Phil Anastasia
Last year: 7-4 (3-2 in WJFL American)
Coach: Dan Spittal (76-59 entering 14th season)
Fast fact: Eastern scored 71 points in two playoff games last season
Opener: Home vs. Washington Township, Sept. 12
Player to watch: Senior QB Tom Flacco (pictured). The 6-1, 185-pound Flacco passed for 2,957 yards and 25 TDs last season. He's fully healthy (having struggled at times last season with a nagging foot injury) and poised for a big season. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds at a Temple camp this summer and is likely to crry the football much more this season. He has scholarship offers from Delaware and Coastal Carolina but have drawn recruiting interest from several other programs.
Outlook: Eastern could be one of the more explosive offensive teams in SJ this season. Flacco, the brother of Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco, is an accurate passer with a strong arm and a great grasp of the team's spread, hurry-up offense. His running ability is an X factor that could create major problems for defenses. Sr. WR Keyshawn Segers caught 38 passes for 781 yards last season. Senior RB T.L. Gardner, the brother of U.S. 100-meter sprint champion English Gardner, is a versatile scatback who can catch the football out of the backfield. Junior TE Pete Flacco, Tom's cousin, could be set for a break-out season. The OL is experienced and led by two-way lineman Mike Montemurro and Dyante Young. Senior LBs Kingsley Ayeni and David Wilcox spark the defense. Senior Brian Hatrt is a top LB and TE and also excels as a punter.
Schedule: The Vikings play nine consecutive weeks, with no bye. After the opener -- a key game for both teams -- they have a stretch of tough road games including Sept. 20 at Timber Creek, Oct. 5 at Rancocas Valley, Oct. 11 at Williamstown and Oct. 25 at Cherokee. The regular-season ends Nov. 8 vs. Lenape. Eastern doesn't play a Thanksgiving Day game.
Quote: "Our offense had that swag at the end of last year and we're trying to carry that over to the start of this season," Flacco said.
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