East­side puts per­fect record on the line at home Satur­day

The Covington News - - Sports - By Josh Briggs

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.”

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