East football looks to defend large school championship
Not since 2000 to 2001 has a large school won back-to-back football championships in the state of Alaska. That feat is on the minds of the 2016 champ East High Thunderbirds and head coach Jeff Trotter. The last team to do it was Dimond, then coached by Duncan Shackelford, who is now an assistant at East.
“One of their goals is a repeat, 'cause it hasn’t happened in 16 years. Nobody’s been able to do it,” said Trotter. "But, at the end of the day, I said you’re your own team. Set your own legacy. I said as far as I’m concerned, we’re just starting over again."
The Thunderbirds graduated almost 30 players from last year’s squad. Faces will be different, but those faces found success at the c-team and junior varsity levels of East football. That was part of Trotter’s plan when taking over the program seven years ago. He didn’t want to stack the varsity roster with talented young players but keep the young talent together at the lower levels to develop a winning culture that would carry over to the top level.
“Came in, made the playoffs the first two years after they hadn’t for a while,” Trotter said. "Then we fell off the cliff and only won two games in two years. We suspected we might have a drop-off, maybe not that much, but then conference championship, state championship-- just kinda went up the escalator."
With the foundation built and a new football culture created at East High, the Thunderbirds look to cement their names in the history books at the end of the 2017 season. They open the season at home on Friday, August 11 against the Chugiak Mustangs.