By Greg Ford
MURPHY – Fans of Plano East football saw enough at last Friday’s Spring Showcase to wet their appetites for the fall.
Over the course of a few hours, they watched a 2015 PESH football team – a mix of JV and varsity players on the field at Kimbrough Stadium – which, while keeping everything simple, displayed some firepower on both sides of the ball.
On offense, the Panthers often operated out of a two-back set that featured quite a bit of running on the edges, mixed in with some passing, while defensively, the Panthers came out in a 4-3 formation that’s designed to take better advantage of team talent.
In the end, it was the Black team beating the White 35-28 in a contest that featured big plays from both teams.
“It was a very successful (spring practice),” head coach Joey McCullough said. “We got out of here tonight healthy … When you split the teams up, you really can’t tell what you have, but I think we saw that we have some explosive players.”
Two of them are running backs Desmond Bowden, who will be a senior this fall, and Jonathan Meadors, who’ll be a sophomore. When together in the backfield, they provided a thunder and lightning punch to the PESH ground game, something that could concern opposing defenses in a few months.
Others who could see time carrying the pigskin are Nathan Miller and Trey Hunter, each of whom will be a sophomore this fall.
Besides having a potentially strong ground game, East’s offense also brings back quarterback Miklo Smalls, as well as veteran wide receivers Tim Wilson, Ade Omotosho and Zadok Wilson.
“I’d like to run it on the ground with a two-back,” McCullough said. “All of our receivers are back, and we want to be balanced. We want to spread the field and we want to be balanced. Last year, we had not tempo.”
He added, “With those (runners) and those receivers, we can spread the field and we’re going to be balanced.”
The coach is particularly pleased with the addition of Bowden — he came over from the now-closed Prime Prep Academy — because of physicality.
“He runs violently,” McCullough said. “He’s not as fast as the other guys, but he’s a violent runner and he knows how to run it. Meadors, for a small guy, is an exceptional running back.
Defensively, the 4-3 seems to fit the Panthers’ talent. On Friday, several former linebackers lined up at defensive end, where they will provide speed and athleticism. Also, highly-touted Anthony Hines should be at middle linebacker, a position suited to his abilities.
“Covered up with a four-man front, I think he can be unbelievable,” McCullough said. “He’s an exceptional athlete and a good kid, and we’re fortunate that he’s only going to be a junior.”
Note: McCullough is entering his second year as East’s head coach, the first to do so in several seasons. That continuity made spring practice flow a lot smoother.
“Things have been slowed down a lot,” he said. “We have been working our offensive and defensive schemes since January … We’ve come a long ways since January. We have put a lot of reps in.”