Drama over, J-E football heads back home

Eagles hope to be home for Sept. 16 ITC game

— And the Jordan-Elbridge football team thought it was difficult playing its entire 2010 season on the road.

It turns out that the Eagles' 3-5 run through last fall, with one "home" game at Solvay and a "Homecoming" contest at Central Square, was just a prelude to a strange off-season where its long-time head coach, Mike Smart, had to win his job back.

Amid the multiple dramas percolating within the J-E district, Smart learned that he had to re-apply for his head coaching position, including an interview process with new athletic director Eric Varney. Smart, along with his brother Pat, were approved by the school board less than two weeks before practices started on Aug. 15.

It's a smaller coaching staff, with the Smart brothers joined by volunteer assistant Tom Leonti. But everyone, coaches and players alike, are relieved that things have returned to normal.

"It (the off-season issues) caused a little stress," said Mike Smart. "But we kept the faith that, in the end, we would be back."

And they return at an opportune time. Were it not for a close defeat to Syracuse Institute of Technology Central in 2010, the Eagles would have cracked the .500 mark.

Building on that, J-E gets further motivation from finally getting to play at home this fall. Though the Sept. 2 opener with Hannibal had to switch venues (they'll now play at Hannibal), if all goes well the Eagles will be in front of the home crowd when it has a rematch with ITC on Sept. 16.

On offense, J-E will have a new quarterback, as Cody Lewis moves over from wingback to replace the tandem of Joe Gallager and Brennen Barrigar. At 5-6 and 140 pounds, Lewis makes up for a diminutive build by possessing speed and the ability to fake out defenders, something he learned as J-E's point guard during basketball season.

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