Ea­gles need all ar­eas to click

The Covington News - - Sports - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

The East­side Ea­gles have shown strengths in all three as­pects of their game this football sea­son, with the of­fense, de­fense and spe­cial teams all com­ing through with big per­for­mances.

How­ever, all three as­pects haven’t yet come to­gether at the same time. The Ea­gles are 2-2 headed into their sec­ond Re­gion 8-AAAA game of the sea­son at Madi­son County to­day, look­ing to snap a twogame skid.

To do so East­side will need to continue the de­fense that forced nine turnovers in its first two games and im­prove on spe­cial teams, which tal­lied a 45-yard field goal and pro­vided strong field po­si­tion but couldn’t con­vert a two-point con­ver­sion in last Fri­day’s 57-56 dou­ble-over­time loss to Ch­es­ta­tee. They also need to

build on the of­fense that tal­lied 429 yards against the War Ea­gles.

East­side has failed to put all as­pects to­gether in its last two games, with the of­fense com­mit­ting key turnovers in a 24-10 loss to Al­covy on Sept. 14 and the de­fense fal­ter­ing in last Fri­day’s loss to Ch­es­ta­tee.

“We didn’t play well de­fen­sively, and I have to give them credit, they do what they do and they did it very well,” Hurst said. “They stuck with the game plan and did ex­actly what we thought they would do.

“Any time you score 56 points, you have to win. The de­fense didn’t play Fri­day like we’ve played here for the last seven years.”

That de­fen­sive unit played against Ch­es­ta­tee with­out two of its star play­ers in An­to­nius Sims and Marcus Grif­feth. Sims has been out since hurt­ing him­self in the first week of the sea­son, a 32-0 win against New­ton, and Grif­feth served a sus­pen­sion at Ch­es­ta­tee. An­thony Hen­der­son was also out.

Hurst said he thinks Hen­der­son will play to­day, while he is hope­ful that Sims can re­turn against Lanier Oct. 12. Grif­feth will make his re­turn to­day as well, mark­ing his first game since com­ing up with 11 tack­les, an in­ter­cep­tion, two forced fum­bles and one fum­ble re­turn against Al­covy.

“I ex­pect him to have a great game,” Hurst said.

Alex Smith re­turned from a sus­pen­sion against Ch­es­ta­tee and had a great per­for­mance of his own, rush­ing for 128 yards and three touch­downs on 22 car­ries. He will continue to be a go-to op­tion for East­side as it trav­els to Madi­son County. Help­ing the cause will be the re­turn of offensive line­man Jared Floyd.

“Hav­ing Jared Floyd back, that’s a huge lift for the offensive line and the whole offensive unit,” Hurst said.

The Ea­gles of­fense will be go­ing against a Madi­son County de­fen­sive unit that has given up 30.5 points per game, just 0.2 points less than the Ea­gles have scored per game this year. Madi­son County has lost all four of its games, in­clud­ing a 49-0 de­feat against North Oconee on Sept. 14 and a 14-7 loss to Lanier last week.

“They’re a qual­ity op­po­nent even though their 0-4,” Hurst said. They have been outscored but they’ve done a lot of things to hurt them­selves.

We need to take ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tions they put us in and hope­fully we’ll come out on top.”

An­thony Banks /The Cov­ing­ton News

Alex Smith (20) runs against Jack­son on Sept. 7, a week be­fore, sit­ting out against Al­covy. Smith re­turned last Fri­day at Ch­es­ta­tee, rush­ing for 128 yards and three touch­downs on 22 car­ries. Smith is one of East­side's sus­pen­sions and in­juries in its four games this sea­son. Marcus Grif­feth re­turns from a sus­pen­sion to­day, and East­side gets other starters back from what has been an in­jury-plagued sea­son when it trav­els to Madi­son County tonight in its sec­ond Re­gion 8-AAAA matchup.

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