Former Madison East standout and current head coach Jeremy Thornton is still building the Purgolders program in his third year, but this year's version of the Eastside squad has something his last two teams didn't have in abundance: experience at key positions.
Leading the way is a large senior group that comprised a good part of the core last year at East.
"That was the blessing when I took over at Madison East," said Thornton. "We had to play a lot of sophomores, and now they're all seniors. That lets us dive into more detailed game plans and gives us confidence in each week."
For those fans who follow basketball, there are a number of familiar names. Madison East boasts a trio of talented hoops stars in Anthony Washington, Keonte Jones, and Jevan Boyton, all three who are ranked statewide in player projections done at WisSports.net in that sport.
"It's more than just basketball. We've got guys from wrestling and track," said Thornton. "I was a multi-sport athlete in high school, and we really push them to be as well."
While the team did graduate a relatively large group of seniors, the cupboard is far from bare. Both starting quarterbacks Phil Roh and Ian McCosky return, as does leading rusher Devion Clay. Defensively, Tyler Owen, along with Jones and Washington, are back in the talented secondary, while the front line is anchored by returning seniors Sean Garrity and Mike Bird.
"If you have a quarterback and a defense, you're going to do well," Thornton responded. "Our hope is to make a run, get to the playoffs, and do some damage."
East picked up a win last year over Janesville Parker, the first of Thornton's coaching career. Memorial and La Follette both made the playoffs, while West, after graduating over 95% of their offensive production, missed the postseason by just one game. Thornton believes that the city of Madison is seeing success in the city schools because the coaches have all been in place for a few years.
"I think it's because us coaches are from the communities," Thornton said. "We know what it's like, and we've been in place for a while."
East will travel to all three city schools this year, including two of their first three games. Homecoming will be against Parker on September 20.
Here's our preview with coach Jeremy Thornton:
Madison East Purgolders
Head Coach: Jeremy Thornton (3rd Season), 1-17 Overall
2018 Result: 1-8 (1-8), 9th in the Big 8
Three-Year Record: 3-24 (0-0 Playoffs)
2018 All-Conference Honors: 0 First-Team, 1 Second-Team, 4 Honorable Mention (5 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 1 First-Team, 3 Second-Team, 14 Honorable Mention (18 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (3): WR/FS Tyler Owen (HM-DB & HM-DB 2017), Sr.; ATH/DB Keonte Jones (HM-DB 2017); WR/DE Jevan Boyton (HM-WR), Jr.
Other Players To Watch: QB/DB Phil Roh, Sr.; QB/DB Ian McCosky, Sr.; RB/DB Devion Clay, Sr.; WR/DB Brandon Conners, Sr.; DT/OT Sean Garrity, Sr.; DT/OL Mike Bird, Sr.; DB Jalonzo Jackson, Sr.; CB/WR Anthony Washington, Sr.; OG/DL Kevin Djerogu, Sr.; TE/LB Chris Kilgour, Jr.
BIG Games: at Madison West, August 30; at Madison Memorial, September 6; vs Janesville Parker, September 20 (Homecoming); at Madison La Follette, October 11