East Bay High School Indians team photo.

The East Bay Indians are looking for continued success and to take the next step under second-year head coach Mike Gottman, after going 8-3 in his first season. The former Durant High School head coach was named head man at East Bay High School last January, returning to his former school where he was the defensive coordinator from 1995-2002.

Gottman had a great track record at Durant from 2003-20, where he went 107-83 and won four district titles. In his first season, the Cougars went to the state final four, and in 2012, they had a perfect 10-0 regular season. The Apollo Beach native is relishing the opportunity to rebuild the East Bay football program that has struggled in recent years.

The Indians will rely heavily on three-year starter Nate Carter at quarterback. The dual-threat senior threw for over 800 yards and 10 touchdown passes, while carrying the ball 124 times for almost 800 yards and three touchdowns on the ground last season. Gottman said that his captain brings great leadership on and off the field, and he knows the playbook like the back of his hand. He will also spend some time at linebacker. Carter may be the best overall athlete on the field, playing both offense and defense. The two-way player is getting looked at by several colleges as an athlete.

Gottman thinks that his team’s major strengths will be on offense with nine returning starters, including four O-linemen. Key players on offense include junior fullback Jaelin Sneed, who led the team in rushing, carrying the ball 124 times for 807 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, and senior receiver Vincent Ketchup, who had 23 catches for 367 yards and two touchdowns through the air as well as 61 carries for 582 yards and five touchdowns on the ground in 2021. Vincent had three touchdowns in the spring game as well. Junior Izaiah Ketchup returned a kick for a touchdown in the 34-22 spring game win over Sumner and will be a factor on special teams this season.

East Bay may have its work cut out for itself on defense with only four starters returning. The defensive philosophy is to get as many three-and-outs as possible to remain fresh. They have to eliminate big plays and make their opponents earn every yard down field. The multiple-look defense will run both four-man and three-man fronts and bring disguised pressure from all over the field. Key players on defense include senior D-lineman Isaac Crump, junior linebacker Ronde Roseboro and senior linebacker Christian Stewart.

Gottman and company want to win a district title and make a deep playoff run this season. The Indians will have a great shot of doing just that if they beat Bloomingdale on the road in late October. East Bay has a manageable schedule and should win at least eight games. Gottman wants to take it one game at a time and “Go 1-0 each week.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.