Bast, Gavek getting it done for East

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If Malik Gavek and Jay Bast hadn’t already proved that they’re two of the best all-around football players in the state, they certainly put no doubt in anyone’s mind with their performances against previously-undefeated Cumberland on Friday night.

The duo, which is arguably better on the defensive side of the ball, torched the Cumberland defense in the running game, combining to compile 44 rushes for 323 yards and four touchdowns.

On a rainy evening, the running game was certainly going to be utilized and, luckily for East head coach Tom Centore, he had two elite runners he could throw in the backfield.

Gavek’s speed and elusiveness complemented Bast’s physical style of running perfectly, causing headaches for the Clippers’ defense all game.

Bast hadn’t been doing much running prior to Friday either. For the most part, the senior has blocked as a fullback, while handling a low quantity of carries and running a few routes in the passing game.

But, with the weather, Friday night was a perfect time to unleash Bast as a running threat, and it paid off. Now, it looks as if East will feature a two-headed monster out of the backfield for the remainder of the season.

“Jay hadn’t been playing much running back this season, but I think now we have two backs,” Centore said. “They’re both tough, physical kids. They’re seniors, Malik’s a three-year starter and Jay’s a four-year starter. It’s comforting to know that we can go to them at any time.”

The duo has certainly delivered through the first three league games.

Gavek has been an uncontainable force in East’s offense thus far, taking 25 carries for 173 yards and four touchdowns in a 46-14 win over Central on Sept. 23. He also added two scores in a rout of Tolman in East’s D-I opener, bringing his touchdown total to seven in just three games in the state’s top division.

Gavek’s play has been equally impressive in the secondary, meshing well with Bast’s punishing, run-stuffing style up front.

Bast came up with several key tackles on running plays in the second half against Cumberland, while Gavek made an impressive tackle in the middle of the field on a crossing pattern caught by Ryan Gaboury, saving a potential game-tying score.

“They’re just special,” Centore said of Gavek and Bast. “Malik was a little hurt and he was recovering, and Jay was beat up and didn’t practice until Wednesday. They’re just leaders and stepped up.”

Colleges have taken notice of both players, too.

As of right now, Bast has an offer to play at URI, and that’s a potential destination for him. Gavek has received considerable Division II interest, with Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, being a potential landing spot for the talented running back and defensive back.

Centore expects both players to get more interest from some additional schools in the coming months, as well.

But, first, the pair has plenty of season left in an East uniform. And, if the destiny of the team weighs heavily on the shoulders of Gavek and Bast, then the ’Bolts should be in good shape going forward.

“They can just make plays,” Centore said. “It’s impressive.”

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