Path to glory

Ea­gles take on Gla­di­a­tors for play­off berth

The Covington News - - SPORTS -

By Ja­son Mur­dock jmur­dock@cov­news.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.”

An­thony Banks/The Cov­ing­ton News

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.

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