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High school football: East Hall coach confident about youthful talent in 2022
East Hall football practice July 25, 2022 in Gainesville. - photo by Bill Murphy

In 2022, East Hall will be loaded with youth and inexperience at most positions.

Once again, it may post more losses than wins. 

But the future for the Vikings is very bright with countless athletes who have displayed exceptional talent, their coach Matt Turner said, which has him extremely excited about getting to work every day. 

“If we can keep this group together, we’re going to be a force,” East Hall’s second-year coach said. “I’m extremely excited about this group.”

After only one win in 2021 and many new skill players settling into starting roles for the Vikings, it could be another rebuilding year at Valhalla. 

However, that doesn’t dampen Turner’s enthusiasm about East Hall’s program where he’s in it for the long haul. 

And East Hall’s coach sees tons of potential with its skill-position players, most of whom are only sophomores or freshmen. 

Easing the transition for many new starters on offense for the Vikings, they’ll be able to rely on a strong batch of offensive linemen, which is led by 250-pound senior center Caleb Pruitt and senior left guard Jake Evans.

In Region 8-4A, East Hall will be exposed to a weekly gauntlet with eight league games to decide the four playoff qualifiers. 

North Oconee is a defending state semifinalist and is the clear favorite to win the region championship. 

Cherokee Bluff has won back-to-back Region 7-3A championships and has consecutive seasons with double-digit wins. 

And North Hall has made the postseason seven straight years and appears loaded again for first-year coach Sean Pender. 

“We’re going to play some Goliaths on this schedule,” Turner said. “But I really like this group of kids and think we’ll surprise some people this season. This program is going in the right direction.”

Making up for substantial youth on offense is depth with capable athletes. 

At quarterback, East Hall’s coach is 

deciding between sophomore Peyton Llewallyn and freshman Jamarcus Harrison. 

“I think both can be outstanding players,” Turner said. 

At running back, the Vikings are looking at three players who will earn the bulk of the carries. 

Jacob Christian, a converted slot wide receiver, is in line to get a lot of carries. 

Also, Demariun Tatum and Lukas Pruitt are viable candidates to carry the ball. 

The wide receiver position is led by senior Temeris Morrison, the defending Hall County 100-meter dash champion. 

East Hall will also line up Caden Daniels at slot receiver and Caden Crocker on the outside. 

With so much untapped potential on offense, Turner is going to let the cream rise to the top. 

“It’s a good thing that I don’t know who my best skill players are yet,” Turner said. “They’re all solid across the board.”

Up front, Pruitt, the heavyweight state runner-up at the Class 4A state wrestling meet in 2022, has been moved to center from his previous spot as a tackle. 

At left tackle, Turner is pleased with the progress of junior Jake Jones, who is the biggest of the bunch at about 260 pounds. 

At right guard, Jacob Hernandez will get to start, while Kyle Mason is the leader to get the starting job at right tackle. 

On the defensive line, Pruitt and Cris Perez will man the inside spots, as Turner puts a premium on stopping the run. 

At defensive end, Cason Cash, Aaron Brock and Evans are the top prospects. 

At linebacker, East Hall touts a talented young sophomore Sergio Soto. 

“He’s (Soto) got a chance to be an outstanding player,” Turner said. 

Tatum and Andy Navarrette will also play linebacker. 

In the secondary, Haden Brock and Jevan Harrison are the top two at cornerback, while Parker Worley is the safety. 

A multitude of skill players will handle kick and punt return duties. 

Jayden Hernandez will take care of all punting and kicking for the Vikings. 

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