East Palestine preps for first playoffs since ’09

The Bulldogs held off South Range, 26-25 to clinch a postseason berth and an ITCL Red Division title.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WYTV) – Three years ago… the East Palestine football team failed to win a single game… This year, the Bulldogs have won 6 in a row, clinched the ITCL Red Tier title, and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in six years. And, believe it or not…one play decided all of it.

“I just kept stretching the route out, he threw it to me, at the last second, he had like six seconds the line did great gave me just enough time to throw it in there,” Jarrod Figley said in describing his eventual game-winning catch against South Range..

The result of the grab was something that seemed nothing more that a dream in East Palestine. That dream became a reality, with the Bulldogs punching their playoff ticket for the first time since 2009.

“Our class has been through the lowest of lows going through an 0-10 season,” Senior Tailback Josh Pickett said.  “We all just stuck to it and we knew our time was going to come, we kept telling each other that. we stuck to it and we worked hard and now we are here.”

Figley echoed Pickett’s sentiments.

“We definitely started from the bottom. We just worked hard, after that 0-10 season we had some nice seniors coming back we just kept working, this year we worked even harder. We knew we could do it if we had the right mindset.”

Head Coach Tony Foster is currently in his third season leading the program.  He’s thrilled with how far his players have come.

“Really bought in to the change of culture as far as getting into the weight room and it has to be built off of strength and conditioning and then buying into the program and i am just extremely happy for them,” Foster said.

What makes the turnaround even more impressive is that E-P started the season 1-3 before rolling off six in a row, including wins against Crestview, Springfield and South range.

“I think some people had the mindset of ‘oh here it is again’ but i think most of us, mostly our class kept everyone on the track to keep going. and i think everyone got their mind right and we have won six games in a row,” Pickett added.

Now the Bulldogs turn their attention towards shaking things up in Division V Region 15.  They’ll travel to second seeded Sandy Valley, to face a team that has just one loss to its name.

“Definitely keep the mindset we have had all season. work hard, play smart and keep going. we plan on going as far as we can and not slowing down anytime soon,” Figley added.

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