Path to glory
Eagles take on Gladiators for playoff berth
By Jason Murdock email@example.com
We not me. That is the attitude the Eastside Eagles must have tonight — — as they travel to Athens to take on the Clarke Central Gladiators.
The Eagles (7-2 overall, No. 3 seed from Region 8AAAA, Sub-region B) have a chance to earn a Class AAAA playoff berth with a victory over the Gladiators (6-2-1, No. 2 seed from Region 8AAAA, Sub-region A) at Billy Henderson Stadium.
“We feel good about our situation,” said Eastside head coach Rick Hurst, “but we’ve got a tough task ahead of us. (Clarke Central) is a good football team with a lot of tradition, and is a tough place to play. We’ve got a lot of things going against us, but we’re just happy to be in a situation where we (have) a chance in game 10 for it to mean something.”
Last week the Eagles flew right by Rockdale County with a 42-6 win, and have peaked at the right time winning three consecutive games.
“Offensively, it could be a shootout; I just hope we come out on top,” said Hurst.
But Eastside has never beaten Clarke Central in its pervious four attempts; however, it marks the first year the Eagles have had a winning record since 2001. And Clarke Central head coach Leroy Ryals is skeptical.
“I’m not very confident,” said Ryals. “Eastside is a very good football team.”
Several things concern Ryals, starting with Eastside’s athleticism.
“They play physical and make a lot of athletic plays,” commented Ryals.
Last year the Eagles finished fourth overall in the sub-region, losing their region playoff play-in game at Habersham Central, 31-14.
Hurst admitted that it will be the biggest game of the year based on what’s on the line.
“They’re going to play their best game,” said Hurst, “and we’re going to try to play our best game.”
At the same token both teams matchup fairly well with each other. In fact, just one point scored separates the two, with Eastside on top having 238.
“They’re not any better than what we’ve already faced,” remarked Hurst, “but they do some things very well.”
Defensively, Eastside again has the upper hand, allowing 12.7 points per game compared to 19.4.
But in order to stop the
“W e feel good about our situation, but we’ve got a tough task ahead of us. We’ve got a lot of things going against us, but we’re just happy to be in a situation where we (have) a chance in game 10 for it to mean something.”
— Rick Hurst Football head coach, Eastside High School
Gladiators, Eastside must first stop No. 4.
Earlier this season, running back Darrieon Robinson became Clarke Central’s alltime leading rusher.
“Nobody compares to what they do running the football,” admitted Hurst. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen as good a back as (Robinson) in the state of Georgia. He’s a phenomenal back who runs hard, and has got great agility and moves. We haven’t seen anything like that; nobody has stopped him. We’ve got to limit how many times he gets into the end zone.”
Robinson is an early commitment to Georgia Southern University. Overall, he has 1,042 yards on 145 carries (7.2 average), including 11 touchdowns this year.
“He’s fine,” said Ryals regarding how Robinson has fared so far this week. “He has practiced well thus far.”
Besides containing Robinson, Hurst admitted that controlling the clock by keeping him off the field was Eastside’s best defense.
“They’re going to have to worry about several different people,” stated Hurst. “They can’t just focus on (one) of our players; you’ve got to take away a lot of weapons, and sometimes that’s hard to do.”
Run the line: Eastside’s Justin Wray (10) runs for a positive gain against Heritage in earlier action this season. The Eagles (7-2 overall) travel to Clarke Central (6-2-1) tonight for a playoff berth.