Eastside defense poised for a big year in 2011
Rams, Eagles in need of new quarterbacks entering spring
If you thought Eastside's defense was good this year, wait until 2011.
Eastside's Shaquille Huff and Sheldon Rankins return next season to form perhaps the best defensive tackle-defensive end combination in the state. Both players are being recruited by major Division 1 colleges and both were selected to the Georgia High School Association Junior All-Star game.
Huff and Rankins aren't unknown commodities. They've been on the radar since their sophomore seasons. But expect a big year out of each again in 2011. They will anchor Eastside's defense that only loses two starters, Kevis Bell and Jerrell Crowder. While those two losses will be felt, Rankins and Huff can make up for it with the immense pressure both are expected to put on quarterbacks and in backfields.
Eastside's defense registered a ridiculous 107.5 tackles for a loss and 39 sacks. Rankins and Huff accounted for 29 and 20 of those, each respectively. The tandem complements each other well. Rankins is the speed rusher off the edge while Huff is the run stopper up the middle. Huff in particular is able to absorb double teams and still effectively clog up the middle. That is what makes him s attractive to college scouts. At 6 foot 2 and 285 pounds, Huff has tremendous speed and footwork. Look for Eastside to utilize the two on the strong side, which will allow the likes of leading tackler, linebacker Blake Rouse to make plays at the line.
Rouse, is a guy who's flown under the radar, but he's a potential big-time player who will be instrumental in Eastside's defense again next year. He led the county in tackles with 116 and forced three fumbles while registering an interception. Rouse has good speed to go along with a tall frame. He could play linebacker or strong safety but is best served as a linebacker in Eastside's 3-5 defense.
Alcovy's Cornell White showed tremendous potential in 2010 despite the Tigers' offensive struggles. He replaced Bowen Braswell at quarterback early in the system and turned out to be Alcovy's second best offensive threat behind Tre Sorrells. Only a sophomore, White will get a full spring and summer of passing leagues to refines his skills. He's already a hard runner who picks up tough yards. In 2010 he showed the ability to throw a nice ball. He'll be put into the system full time and should flourish.
The quarterback situation at the other two schools is up in the air. With Califf Carnes
and Tyree Williams graduating from Eastside and Newton respectively, there will be open competition at each school.
Eastside will most likely look to either rising junior Cameron Boyd or freshman sensation Demario Terrell to take over after Carnes was the starter the past two seasons. Boyd is the more prototypical drop-back quarterback and is about the same size as Carnes was. His arm strength would need to greatly im- prove as would his command of the huddle said Eastside coach Rick Hurst. But he was the backup in 2010 and saw time in three games — starting one, and has playoff experience when he was called into duty in the second half of Eastside's second-round loss to Cairo. Terrell is moiré athletic and coaches rave about his arm strength despite his smaller frame. He played well as a freshman for Eastside outside of varsity play but doesn't have experience at the top level. He can run the ball well and gives the offense more flexibility. According to Hurst both quarterbacks will be given equal opportunity to win the job during the spring and summer.
At Newton, things are a bit more murky. Zach Sullivan is an option but head coach Cortez Allen hasn't really committed to anyone yet. Sullivan was on the depth chart behind Williams for the Rams in 2010 but never had to see any time. He's big and has a decent arm and would give the Rams two years of service as he's just a sophomore. Newton will look at all its options during the spring and summer and the Rams have other areas of concern too like running back and receiver where the other two schools are in better shape.
Wheels to thrill: Alcovy's Cordell White broke out in 2010 and has two more years to get even better.