By winning three of its final four games a year ago, the Columbus East High School football team posted just its third non-losing season in 11 seasons under coach Mike White but its second 5-5 finish in three years.

By winning three of its final four games a year ago, the Columbus East High School football team posted just its third non-losing season in 11 seasons under coach Mike White but its second 5-5 finish in three years.

With players such as seniors JeJuan Bell (6-foot-1, 165 pounds) and T.C. Turner (5-9, 225) returning, the Tigers could have the necessary athletes to again reach that feat.

What remains in question is whether East will be able to create enough opportunities for its skill-position players to shine in the City League-North Division.

Senior Don Jackson (6-0, 235) returns to the offensive line where he'll play at center, but seniors Adrian McGee (5-11, 175) and Demetreus Moorer (6-2, 180) were among a group of inexperienced players battling for the other starting positions.

The Tigers open Friday at Eastmoor Academy, which was the Division III state runner-up last season.

"We've got good skilled people," said White, who is 30-80 in his tenure with his only winning season coming in 1999 when the Tigers were 8-3.

"A lot depends on our line. They have to open up holes because we've got some good athletes."

Bell will be in his second season as the starting quarterback in East's spread attack.

The Tigers averaged 15.7 points last year, but almost one-third of their points came in a 46-12 win over winless Centennial.

Senior Anthony Curry (5-9, 160) and juniors Deontea Rudasill and Semaj Thompson should be the running backs. Turner and senior Dominique Scott (5-11, 165) are at wide receiver.

"We're doing well, but we've got a lot of improvements to make," said Bell, whose team was 4-3 in the City-North to tie Whetstone and Northland for third behind Brookhaven (7-0) and Beechcroft (6-1).

"Timing will be big. A lot of the plays we run are based on timing. We've got a whole new receiving corps this year, but our chemistry is something we've been getting together.

"The way we look at it is that we're the only team (in the City-North) to have won our last two games in the City."

Turner made first-team all-City and first-team all-district in Division III at defensive back after finishing with eight interceptions and 81 tackles. He should be joined in the secondary by Rudasill, Scott and junior Marqueece Brightwell.

Seniors Jesse Erby and Moorer and juniors Devan Taylor and Lamar Turner will play on the line in the 4-3 defensive base.

McGee and junior Tejuan Beard will play at linebacker.

The Tigers lost a pair of second-team all-district players to graduation in running back/linebacker James Swanson (15 touchdowns on offense, three interceptions on defense) and center David Elliott (first-team all-City two years in a row).

East has 38 players out and will compete in Division III, Region 10 for the next two seasons after previously being in Region 12.

Linden also competes in Region 10. Northland moves up to Division I, Region 3 and the other five City-North teams are in Division II, Region 7.

After facing Eastmoor in its opener, Walnut Ridge has replaced Columbus West in week two and Briggs replaces Cincinnati Aiken in week three. The Scots were 6-4 and Briggs was 4-6 a year ago.

"We had a good first scrimmage against (Harvest Prep) and (the Columbus) Crusaders," White said. "We only gave up one score between the two. There are no rest games for us. We're not that deep. It's going to be a challenge.

"Right now especially with our young offensive line, you have to hold your block and get to the right man. The skilled-position guys pretty much know what to do. It's a matter of our line getting the quarterback some time. I think it'll jell as time goes on."