Leander Oates

Warriors head coach Leander Oates stands in front of the trophy case at Eastern Wayne High School.

Eastern Wayne has started off the season with a record of 3-1.

The Warriors’ three wins in just four games is already more wins than the Warriors had during their entire 2020 season where they finished 2-4.

A big reason for their early success is the strong leadership of head coach Leander Oates.

This is Oates’ sixth season with the team, and he has experienced both the ups and downs of coaching football during his time with the Warriors.

The Eastern Wayne head coach said he knew this season was going to be much more successful because of the amount of commitment his players had shown in off-season workouts.

“The guys were committed,” Oates said. “All the way from spring football the guys stayed with the sport.

“The biggest thing that brought us together was the weight room. We needed to stay strong based on who we were competing against last season, and the biggest difference in our games was our lack of strength.”

Another reason for Eastern Wayne’s success is a change in the team’s offensive strategy.

This season, the Warriors have relied more on the passing game, and Oates says that has to do with what he called “grounding the passing game.”

What Oates referred to as “grounding” is making the passing game simpler and allowing quarterback Trevor Warren to make shorter and more simple passes Oates believes will allow the quarterback to feel more comfortable making all the throws in the route tree.

“If we can keep our quarterback comfortable, allow him to control the game, and manage the clock, then offensively we are going to be much more balanced,” Oates said.

So far this season, Oates’ new offensive game plan has paid off. Eastern Wayne has scored at least 40 points in every game this season, except for the Sept. 10 game where they put up 20 points against a stellar Greene Central defense.

The new passing offense for the Warriors has helped Warren improve his game. Warren has thrown for nine touchdowns, over 700 yards, and only two interceptions in four games this season.

Warren said the biggest reasons for his improvement as quarterback are his head coach and offensive coordinator.

“Coach Oates is a tremendous coach as well as coach Elvin James, our offensive coordinator, who has helped us a lot with our offensive by putting a lot of new plays,” Warren said.

Eastern Wayne has also improved on the defensive side of the football. The Warriors have given up 26 points or less in all four games this season, which is a big improvement over last season when they gave up 37 or more points in three games, including a game against New Bern where they gave up 50.

Oates, who is also the defensive coordinator for the team, said that the team needed to be stronger physically, and he believes spending more time in the weight room has helped.

“We have been aggressive in the weight room, and I think that brings meanness to the defense,” Oates said. “We have to play mean.”