East Bay High senior Kieran Pettus has been a key role player for the football team in his three previous seasons.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound team captain spent time at tight end his first two seasons, where he was mainly called upon to block, but has spent time at offensive tackle and defensive end. The defense will most likely be where he provides the biggest lift for the Indians this season.
Whichever side of the ball he lines up on however, Pettus will provide a big leadership presence on the field for first-year coach Frank LaRosa.
"You see a guy his size and you expect things of that kid," LaRosa said. "Everything you would hope that he is athletically he is, but what he is as a person is so much more impressive."
The Indians will be facing a number of changes this season, as for the first time in 17 years the role of coach won't be filled by Brian Thornton, who stepped down at the end of last year. LaRosa, who spent four years under Thornton as defensive coordinator, will have the job of creating a new culture at East Bay, which finished 1-9 last season. The biggest and most notable change will be East Bay abandoning its long-standing wishbone offense and moving to the spread.
LaRosa said he is confident his team has the leadership needed to find success this season and pointed to Pettus as a big piece of that leadership.
"Kieran is our defensive quarterback even at defensive end," LaRosa said. "You'd expect the (middle) linebacker to be that guy, but even as a young player he was always the facilitator of our communications on defense."
Pettus excels off of the football field as well. He is a varsity basketball player at East Bay on top of being an honors student in the classroom ranking near the top of his senior class.
Wherever Pettus lines up this fall, he's comfortable in his role as a leader.
"I'm the guy who wants to be that extension of our coaches," Pettus said. "I'm always there talking with our guys, whether it's my job or not I'm talking to everybody."