The East Ridge Warriors showed a lot of improvement last season. After winning only two games in 2021, the Warriors finished with a 4-6 record but also was competitive in all but a couple of games on the schedule.
“If you look at East Ridge’s past, you wouldn’t find many better seasons,” said head coach Donnie Burdine. “You have to be competitive to be a winner, and we were competitive last season. Now, we want to have a home playoff game for the first time.”
KEY LOSSES: Dylan Burdine, Zack Mason, Brad Howell
KEY RETURNERS: Isaiah Adkins, Stevie-Todd Layne, Brody Wallace, Morgan Slone
The Warriors will need to replace quarterback Dylan Burdine on offense, but East Ridge has what appears to be two potential options. Freshman Cole Ratliff could get some looks at the position. Also, look for senior Landon Robinson to possibly provide some valuable leadership at the position.
Isaiah Adkins is back to lead the rushing game. Last season, Adkins rushed for 1,105 yards and 15 touchdowns. Stevie-Todd Layne and Gabe May could provide help in the fullback role. Drew Taylor could see time in the H-back position.
Keaton Puckett, Jake Ferran and Brayden Stewart will see time in the slot positions.
On the line, Connor Adkins should be back to anchor it. Most of the rest of the positions are still being figured out, but expect Brody Wallace, Morgan Slone and Brandon Slone to see time on the line.
On the defensive line, Wallace, Morgan Slone, Brandon Slone and Taylor should see some time, but all positions are still up for grabs.
Keegan Wallace, Robinson, May and Layne will see some time at linebacker and should help the Warriors. Layne was the team’s leading tackler and led the state in tackles for much of the season. He finished with 99 tackles, including 11 for a loss.
Isaiah Adkins and Stewart will spend time in the defensive backfield.
One big addition for Burdine to his coaching staff is Andy Stephens. Stephens is an accomplished coach who will handle the Warrior defense.
“He brings in a lot of experience and has success wherever he’s been,” said Burdine. “I think that he’ll help us get a lot better on defense.”
8/18 – Morgan County
8/26 – Prestonsburg @ Pikeville (Pike County Bowl)
9/01 – @ River View
9/15 – Tug Valley
9/22 – Jenkins
9/29 – @ Paintsville
10/06 – Betsy Layne (District)
10/13 – @ Pike County Central (District)
10/20 – Shelby Valley (District)
10/27 – @ Knott County Central
“Of course, all of our district games are important,” said Burdine. “Prestonsburg should be a huge game for us. We of course owe Tug Valley for that close loss last year. And then if we can play Paintsville close or even win, that would show how far we have come.”
East Ridge made a lot of positive strides last season. Losing Dylan Burdine will take some adjusting, but Coach Burdine has a plan and returns quite a few key pieces. The goal is for East Ridge to not only make the playoffs but host a first round game. With hard work, that goal seems attainable. Look for the Warriors to continue to improve this seaason.