High School Football Season Preview: East

Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 3:07 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The T-Birds suffered heartbreak in the state championship last season, but a silver lining is the amount of firepower they are returning in 2023.

Among the key players back in the fold is quarterback Cam Hayes. 2022 was Hayes’ first year as the East starter, and he said during that experience he learned to focus solely on his job and have full confidence that the guys around him will do theirs.

”I have to let everyone around me do their thing, and I have to trust them and they’ll work for me. My guys, my receivers are going to run their routes good, Drew’s going to run the ball good, and the linemen are going to block good. So I just need to throw good and make the great decisions for our team,” Hayes said.

Hayes excelled last season; he led 4A in all purpose yards, his 40 passing touchdowns were 15 more than anyone else in the class, and he took home a first team All-State selection.

Returning with him this year is second team Offensive Player of the Year Drew Jackson. Jackson rushed for over 1000 yards last season, was second on the team in receiving, and totaled 17 TDs. His play in the defensive backfield earned him first team All-State on that side of the ball as well.

Jackson said that as a senior taking on an elevated leadership role, he has been pushing to get more offseason and non-practice work in.

“I think we’ve been doing more team activities, building the chemistry, and then getting out here in the summer and throwing and stuff like that. I think all that helps to make a winning team and make it to where we want to be,” Jackson said.

The team that made it to last year is not only returning dynamic offensive players, but possibly more impact players on the defensive side. Four of East’s top five defensive producers are back in Colby Olson, Kolbe Dierks, Nathan Mirich, and Jackson, which means the third ranked defense statistically in 2022 is primed to make a jump this fall.

Head coach Chad Goff said he’s been pleased with how they’ve looked so far in practice.

”Getting them to trust their assignment has been a big focus of what we’ve been doing. Really not too many adjustments... those kids are coming back with a lot of experience, so we would never change stuff for them. Just because of their knowledge and their abilities, you know? So it’s a good group of kids that have been working hard, flying around definitely. Understanding the coverages, and then just the gap responsibility,” Goff said.

The T-Birds season kicks off on Aug. 25 when they head up to Gillette to face Campbell County.