Eastside puts perfect record on the line at home Saturday
Coming off a big road win against Elbert County last week, Eastside hopes to keep it going Saturday as it hosts Region 8-AAA powerhouse Stephens County at Sharp Stadium.
“Stephens County is a solid football team. There is nothing flashy about them,” Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. “They play very sound fundamental football on both sides and in the kicking game. They like to run the ball about 65 percent of the time and they do it well. We will have to play solid defense and make tackles to stay in this game.”
The Eagles win over Elbert County didn’t come without some tense moments. Eastside blew a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter in the matter of seconds and had to come back for the win. Broderick Alexander bailed his
team out with a 53-yard touchdown run and the Eagles left town shaking their heads.
“Our ability to focus is my main concern,” Hurst said. “We have yet to play a game where we do not lose focus for a period of time during the game. We coach against it, we talk about it, but at some point our players are going to have to realize that this game is 90 percent mental and the lack of mental preparation will get you beat especially, against good teams.”
Don’t look for the Eagles to change their approach offensively. In its first four game, Eastside has opened the each half with a mix of run and pass before they settle into a predominately run orientated offense. Quarterback Justin Wray has been inconsistent in the passing game and Hurst the passing game needs to improve.
Injuries haven’t been a major concern so far. Rashad Hill has been limited so far this year and Greg Griffieth missed last week’s game with s stress fracture,
“We are starting to get a little healthy and that is a good thing,” Hurst said. “Rashad [Hill] will see his first extensive action of the season so that will benefit our running game and our rotation in the secondary. Greg [Griffieth] is out, but he could return as early as next week.”
The Eagles have been dominate at times but Hurst admits he needs to see his team put together 48 minutes of solid football. Ste- phens County has been one of the premier teams in the region and an Eagle win would certainly show the rest of Region 8-AAA, the Eagles are going to be tough to beat.
“I feel like we have something to prove,” Hurst said. “We are playing against a team with a lot of tradition. We have earned the respect from the county and surrounding area, but we have yet to open up eyes around the state. I told our players that in order to do that you have to beat someone that matters. Stephens County, in the grand scheme of things matters because they are the defending region champ. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best.”
Eastside won the turnover battle against Elbert County but remains minus three on the season. Special teams has been an area of concern as well and Hurst knows for his team to win Saturday night, it will have to play better than it has so far.
“In order for us to win this game we must protect the football and find a way to slow down their running game,” he said. “Their tailback is a work-horse that likes to carry the ball 25-30 times a game. Our front lines on both sides of the ball are crucial. For us to win, we have to win the line of scrimmage. Can we? Certainly I believe so. The question is do those that fight every down in the trenches believe enough in themselves to get the job done?” The county finds out Saturday. “We need a big crowd that is loud and proud,” Hurst said. “Come out and support your Eagles.”