25 Teams in 25 Days

East Central continues to build a winner under Seth Smith

The East Central High School football team aims to improve on last year’s 7-5 season that included a playoff victory.
The East Central High School football team aims to improve on last year’s 7-5 season that included a playoff victory. amccoy@sunherald.com

It's year No. 4 for Seth Smith as the head football coach at East Central and the goal in 2016 is to keep the momentum building following a breakout 7-5 campaign a year ago.

The Hornets have increased their win total in each of Smith's first three seasons, going from 1-10 to 5-7 to 7-5.

With all involved familiar with Smith's system, the former Pearl River Central and Picayune assistant is seeing the results in practice.

“We have kids that are seniors who were freshmen when we started,” Smith said. “We've groomed them for this year for four years now. They kind of embody and represent what we've come to expect. We've had the same offense and defense for four years now. That helps with the tempo at practice. Everything is a little bit faster.”

The challenge for East Central this year will be replacing one of the most durable backs the Coast has ever seen. A.J. Davis carried the ball a whopping 437 times for 2,893 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2015. In 2014, Nate Cohen rushed 306 times for 2,436 yards and 24 scores.

While Smith may not have a player like Davis waiting to fill his spot, he's confident that he has the pieces necessary to again run the ball with success in 2016.

“Nate and A.J. have really set the bar high,” Smith said. “We have three guys that are competing for carries. One is junior Tony Brown. The other ones are (senior) Jessie Bradley and sophomore Ryan Evans. Those three guys kind of keep competing. We'll pretty much split the carries unless one gets a hot hand. I don't foresee one guy carrying it 40 times like A.J.”

Senior Devin Auvil has made the move from the offensive line to fullback and will look to pave the way at 6-foot-3, 259 pounds.

East Central's backs will have the good fortune of running behind one of the bigger offensive lines on the Coast this season. Senior right tackle Conner Estes, a Louisiana Tech commit, is the leader of the group and stands 6-foot-5, 304 pounds. The right tackle is junior Wyatt Green, who is 6-3, 276.

The interior of the line consists of senior left guard Ryan Cumbest (6-3,250) junior center Austin Kitchens (6-2, 250) and junior right guard Alberto Autrey (6-2, 270).

“A lot of them are young and don't have many Friday night starts,” Smith said. “But they've been in the system three years and understand what to do. They're gaining cohesion with each practice.”

Junior Rylee Brown and sophomore Jarret Goff, who is more of a runner, have been getting most of the time at quarterback in practice. Last year's starter, senior Glenn Evans, has made the move to defense at cornerback.

East Central doesn't throw the ball much, but junior wingback Brad Cumbest should provide a nice target in the passing game at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. Senior Matthew Hadley is also expected to see plenty of time at receiver.

East Central isn't as big on defense, but Smith believes the group makes up for that lack of size in their athleticism.

“It's really the fastest defense we've had,” he said. “We return some good seniors and several juniors that spot played last year. They'll step in and play roles.”

Senior Kye Humphrey and junior Cade Miles are expected to start at the two defensive ends. Ahmad Brown and Jacob Kilgore will be the two senior defensive tackles.

A pair of senior linebackers, Stone Tolbert and Andrew Anderson, will be the leaders on defense. Tolbert is listed at 6-foot-2, 222 pounds and Anderson is 6-foot-1, 217. Senior Taylor Carpenter and junior Cade Miles will be the outside linebackers.

“Stone and Anderson are kind of like our quarterbacks on defense,” Smith said.

Evans, senior Reis Traeger and Kody Humphrey will be the three cornerbacks on defense. Junior Andrew Seward should be a standout at free safety after making 83 tackles a year ago.

2016 schedule

Aug. 19

ST. LUKE’S (Mobile)

Aug. 26

STONE HIGH

Sept. 2

At Greene County

Sept. 9

At Quitman

Sept. 16

ST. MARTIN

Sept. 23

At Purvis

Sept. 30

At Moss Point

Oct. 7

PASS CHRISTIAN

Oct. 14

At St. Stanislaus

Oct. 21

BAY HIGH

Oct. 28

VANCLEAVE

2016 roster

2 Kyle Ely

3 Cameron Gray

4 Tony Brown

5 Glenn Evans

6 Kye Humphrey

7 Kody Humphrey

8 Chandler Scott

9 Jarret Goff

10 Trenton Baldock

11 Alex Hopkins

13 Jessie Bradley

14 Rylee Brown

15 Hunter Zwick

16 Peyton Lundy

17 Taylor Carpenter

18 Robert Jones

20 Reis Traeger

21 Devin Auvil

22 Jared Daughdrill

23 Cameren Rouse

24 Avery White

25 Brad Cumbest

26 Andrew Seward

27 Kase Kelley

29 Cade Miles

30 Kye Smith

32 Andrew Anderson

33 Stone Tolbert

34 Ryan Evans

35 Jake Gilgore

35 Jacob Kilgore

36 Ahmad Brown

38 Luke Byrd

40 Coby Burroughs

41 Dylan Moody

42 Caden Redmond

43 Ethan Davidson

44 Louis Morgan

45 Noah Parker

48 Mathew Hadley

50 Will Boone

53 Joel Reiser

54 Ryan Watts

55 Ryan Cumbest

62 Maxwell Greenough

63 Nick Krebs

64 Garrett Dobson

66 Tyler Morris

71 Huner Western

73 Austin Kitchens

75 Wyatt Green

77 Alberto Autrey

79 Conner Estes

82 Mark Kennedy

99 Bryce Eubanks

Projected Starters Offense

QB Rylee Brown

RB Tony Brown

FB Devin Auvil

RT Conner Estes

LT Wyatt Green

G Ryan Cumbest

G Alberto Autrey

C Austin Kitchens

WB Brad Cumbest

WR Matthew Hadley

TE Mark Kennedy

Defense

DE Kye Humphrey

DT Ahmad Brown

DT Taft Dixon

DE Cade Miles

LB Stone Tolbert

LB Andrew Anderson

LB Taylor Carpenter

LB Kody Humphrey

DB Andrew Seward

DB Glenn Evans

DB Reis Traeger

DB Chandler Scott

At a glance

2015 record: 7-5

Region: 8-4A

Head coach: Seth Smith

Assistant coaches: Sam Huff, David Hudson, Kevin Fant, Donnie Wallace, Stephen Garrard, Rob Reiser.

Offense: Multiple

Defense: Multiple

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