Eagles, Patriots take the field
Matching field goals were the only points posted at Eastside Field on Wednesday, but that was enough to get Eastside and Heritage coaches, players and fans excited about the upcoming football season.
The Eagles and the Patriots finished a first half tied 3-3 in the two team’s only scrimmage of the preseason, pitting the two schools varsity programs against one another in 24 minutes of action.
After a first half of even play, the teams then traded a single overtime situation before allowing the junior varsity programs to take the field.
Despite both programs' struggles on the offensive side of the ball, Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said that he saw a lot of good, especially his team's defense, in the preseason matchup.
“I was pleased with some things, but we have a long way to go,” Hurst said. “I was pleased with our effort and I thought the defense bowed its back at times and refused to let them in. They played hard.
“Offensively, we didn’t do very well, but we have to make sure that we’re throwing to our reads and that we’re doing a better job up front with our zone scheme,” he said. “We didn’t do a very good job with that tonight and we have to do a little better.”
After the two teams traded turnovers on downs during their first possessions, the Eagles struck first, scoring on their second drive for the game’s first score.
Eastside quarterback Demario Terrell connected with running back Tanell Boley for a 39-yard screen pass to put the Eagles in Patriot territory, positioning the Eagles inside Heritage's 20-yard line with a chance to score.
Eastside’s offense sputtered in the red zone, but a 32-yard field goal attempt from the Eagles Jake Shelton broke the deadlocked contest after sailing perfectly through the uprights.
Heritage answered the Eagles score on its very next drive, moving the ball 74 yards to inside the Eagles 10-yard line. Heritage quarterback Ryan Sutton hit tight end Eric McIver with a 24-yard pass before C.J Stone added a 15-yard run to get the Patriots to the Eagles’ 41-yard line.
Sutton again connected with one of his receivers for a 30-yard gain, hitting wideout Kenny Weaver down the sideline for the big gain.
The Patriots’ Austin Kulp knotted the contest at 3-3 with a 23-yard field goal to close Heritage’s only scoring drive with just over 11 minutes left in the first half.
Both teams closed varsity action in the opening scrimmage with a situation overtime period.
Eastside posted a field goal in the practice overtime period, while Heritage scored a touchdown in its set.
Heritage head coach Mike Parris said he was pleased with the way his program performed in its first liveaction scrimmage.
“I’m proud of the way they came out,” Parris said. “We needed to come out and play somebody else. Offensively, we need to finish drives. Defensively, we executed well. They should be ahead of the offense at this time of the season.
"We believe in our guys and we’re going to make some plays," Parris said. "We believe in them. and we know they are going to do well.”
Terrell finished the contest 5-for13 for 58 yards, with one interception, while Sutton posted a 3-for-8 line for 67 yards.
Stone finished the contest with 42 yards rushing, while McIver reeled in two catches for 37 yards.
The scrimmage concluded with a half of junior varsity action.
The Patriots will open the season on Aug. 30 against Northgate, while the Eagles will take on county rival Newton at Sharp Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30.
Running back Andrew Henderson turns up field, looking for his blockers on the way to the end zone.
The Eagles defense halts Heritage running back C.J. Stone on third down.
Eastside's Tanell Boley drives through the defender after a catch for a first down. The Eagles and Rockdale County rival Heritage squared off for both programs' first scrimmage of the year on Aug. 21.