East entered Friday night’s game against rival Highland as the state’s top scoring team.
But in a dominant 29-7 drubbing of the visiting Rams, the Leopards showed there are many facets to their game.
East’s defense forced seven turnovers, including four interceptions, as it ran effectively against the equally physical Rams.
“We really preached defense all week and we thought we had a pretty good gameplan to stop them,” said East safety Jake Baptiste, who corralled one of the interceptions against Highland quarterback Jamahl Greer. “They really couldn’t do anything on us. It was a fun, physical game.”
The Leopards (5-0, 2-0 Region 6) held Highland (3-2, 1-1) to just 129 yards of total offense, and just nine yards rushing. With defensive tackles Korey Rush and Hausia Sekona stuffing the run, East was able to sit back and take aim at Greer’s passes.
Lorenzo Manu, Preston Curtis and Malakai Solovi each had interceptions against Greer, who completed 10 of 29 passes.
Solovi scored the Leopards’ first two touchdowns on runs of 5 and 24 yards, as the Leopards turned to him and Curtis on the perimeter. Ula Tolutau, the Leopards’ top rusher on the season, had just nine carries against the Rams’ large interior line.
“We have other weapons,” East coach Brandon Matich said of Solovi (88 yards rushing) and Curtis (54 yards), who scored on a 2-yard run in the second quarter.
East is now plus-14 on the season in turnover ratio.
“We really focus on it every day in practice and try to strip the ball and get turnovers and put kids in position to get interceptions and things like that,” Matich said.