In 2013, Tony Foster left a consistent South Range program to change the tide of his alma mater. After 0-10 and 4-6 seasons, the East Palestine Bulldogs surprised a lot of teams en route to 7-4 season, Inter-Tri County League Red Tier title (5-0) and a playoff berth for the first time since 2009.

“What changed last year was our confidence level and our maturity,” Foster said. “They had a hard time believing that good things could happen.

“These kids have grown up watching a program that’s been struggling. Whenever one bad thing happened it, the wheels would fall off the wagon and it would just spiral.”


A lot of what went right for the Bulldogs came from quarterback Parker Sherry who did things that most probably didn’t expect to see from a freshman. Sherry passed for 1,320 yards (15 TDs) and rushed for 890 yards (11 TDs).

“He wasn’t your typical freshman last year,” Foster said. “Typically you’re not going to have a freshman step into that position and to be able to excel the way he did.

“He’s a football junkie. I don’t think there was anyone who spent more time on film than he did.

“He had some great leadership with the seniors we had last year to show him the ropes. He was very businesslike and went about his job. I would say he progressively got better and better as the year went on.”

The Bulldogs will need to replace running back Josh Pickett who was a focal point for defenses to key on. Pickett’s runs opened holes for Sherry to exploit.

“A kid with his speed is hard to replace,” Foster said. “I think our offense this year will be a little more balanced.

“This year we’re going to have to find out where that balance is going to come from. We’ve got a senior tailback, Clayton Gingher that is doing a nice job and looks good.”


East Palestine was hit hardest on the defensive side of the ball and will need to replace the holes from a unit that allowed just 22 points a game.

Vince DeLaRoza and Trevor Kimmel return along with Alex Guy who will anchor the defense.

Guy was tasked to play a new position (defensive end) and got better as the season went on according to Foster.

“Clayton Gingher, he’s going to be our three technique defensive tackle,” Foster said. “This will be his third year doing that.

“We’re going to rely on those guys to anchor the front. With some depth issues at linebacker, we took Kimmel, who was a good defensive end and moved him back to inside linebacker, because we’ve got some more depth with some younger guys that I think are going to do a really good job on the defensive line. We can better utilize his talents and skill set at inside linebacker.”

Special Teams

The Bulldogs will need to replace kicker Josh Fristik. Foster joked that he doesn’t yet feel comfortable with his special teams.

“Not yet,” Foster said. “Hopefully by the time [Aug.] 26 rolls around we’ll feel better about it. We’re replacing Fristik, who did a nice job for us. We got another soccer player, Nick Garvin, that’s interested in kicking.

“So, hopefully that’ll be a solid point in our special teams. It’s always about finding the balance in that part of the game.”


Last year, the Bulldogs seemingly came out of nowhere to go undefeated in the league to win their first ITCL championship.

Foster knows that coming into this season that there will be no sneaking up on anybody.

“It’ll be a challenge,” Foster said. “We’re in a different role. Just focusing on, constantly striving to get better.

“The attitude and effort has to be there every time they step on the practice field. The intensity level can’t be turned on on Friday nights. If it’s not here in practices, we’re not going to have it. We’re just trying to build on that and make sure they stay focused and set small goals to really compete and improve.”

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