New­ton-East­side ri­valry con­tin­ues with scrim­mage

The Covington News - - SPORTS -

The phrase “more than a game” en­com­passes ev­ery­thing that the New­ton/East­side ri­valry is to the peo­ple of New­ton County.

At New­ton’s soft­ball game, where the team beat Lo­cust Grove on Tues­day, I watched the game and heard fans talk­ing about the Ea­gles/Rams up­com­ing scrim­mage. The con­ver­sa­tion was short but the peo­ple seemed anx­ious to watch New­ton and East­side de­spite the fact that it was only a scrim­mage.

The ri­valry

Ac­cord­ing to maxpreps.com, since 2004 the two teams are 5-5 against each other. Un­like last year’s game, which saw East­side pull out a 34-28 vic­tory late in the fourth quar­ter, this scrim­mage doesn’t mean any­thing as far as reg­u­lar sea­son wins and losses go, but it means ev­ery­thing as far as brag­ging rights go.

“It al­ways does. You don’t down­play it. (New­ton head foot­ball coach Ter­rance Banks) can sit here and down­play it all he wants to if he wants, but he knows as well as I do. This is only his sec­ond year here, but this is my 10th and I know what it is go­ing up against these guys, and what it means to these guys (East­side play­ers),” Ea­gles head coach Rick Hurst said. “It does take a lit­tle pres­sure off that it is a scrim­mage, but you can’t tell them that be­cause they wanna go out there and do well against their ri­val and that’s what mat­ters. We can down­play it all we want to but these guys in green know what it means to go up against [New­ton] and have some brag­ging rights even if it is a scrim­mage.”

Banks did down­play the ri­valry, as Hurst pre­dicted, but said he still wants to get the win. Banks em­pha­sized two things, the fact that the game is just a scrim­mage and...the fact that it’s just a scrim­mage.

“I’ll be hon­est with you, it’s a scrim­mage. I know the fans are go­ing to be up­set with me when I say this, but I see no ri­valry, it’s a scrim­mage,” Banks said. “Un­til we play them in the reg­u­lar sea­son it’s just a scrim­mage to us. We’re fo­cused on Berk­mar. To me, for the next two years we don’t even play East­side. It’s a scrim­mage game and we’re not do­ing any­thing spe­cial. We’re go­ing to be very vanilla, work­ing on the ba­sics to get to­gether. I know the fans are go­ing to be up­set with me, I know they wanna watch the score­board, and I apol­o­gize to them.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I want to win the game, but I’m not show­ing any­thing that I need for when the games count,” Banks said.

Banks com­pared the scrim­mage to play­ing against your brother-in-law and said that the game would get the juices flowin’.

Although Hurst ac­knowl­edged the ri­valry he did say that it’s just a game and it’s not the end of the world whether they win or lose. He added that he wants the team to get bet­ter each week and be ready when they play Al­covy on Au­gust 29.

The quar­ter­backs

Ea­gles stand­out quar­ter­back Austin Hol­loway has been do­ing well in prac­tice this summer, ac­cord­ing to Hurst.

“He’s do­ing well. He had a real good scrim­mage the other night, threw a cou­ple deep balls that were prob­a­bly 45-50 yards on the money,” Hurst said. “If we give him time and even if we don’t he can break out and make things hap­pen. That’s what’s good about him is he can use his legs to cre­ate plays that might nor­mally break down for some­body else. It’s good to have some­body back there that can run around and make some­thing hap­pen.”

The Ea­gles are ad­just­ing to new as­sis­tant coaches in new tight ends coach An­derico Bai­ley and run­ning backs coach Chuck Jor­dan.

“They’re do­ing great. They’re re­ally re­spond­ing to coach Jor­dan well and to coach Bai­ley well,” Hurst said. “I re­ally en­joy hav­ing those guys out here. They’ve played at a high level. Coach Bai­ley be­ing from here helps, so all of them know and have heard about him be­fore. So it makes a big dif­fer­ence when they un­der­stand that he’s been here and knows how we ex­pect them to play.”

The Rams have a bonafide beast at quar­ter­back, too, in Ro­mario John­son. Banks said that John­son is prob­a­bly their only con­crete starter and that he would only play the first quar­ter.

“We don’t have any con­crete starters. We got one team on both sides of the ball. It’s some com­pe­ti­tion to be de­cided and those things will be an­swered on Fri­day,” Banks said. Banks added that he’ll prob­a­bly play a fresh­man af­ter he sits John­son so that he could get some val­ued ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We got some things that we want to try out. Be­cause of the rules of the game and it be­ing a scrim­mage, it’s cer­tain things that we’re not go­ing to do. It’s cer­tain things that we’re go­ing to work on and see if it works,” Banks said.

“If it don’t look good on Fri­day we ei­ther gotta throw it away or re­fine it. That’s what Fri­day is about.”

Fans will pack Sharp Sta­dium on Fri­day night just to see two teams tech­ni­cally prac­tice against each other. But if you think New­ton and East­side fans aren’t tak­ing this se­ri­ously, then you’re wrong.

Shakeem Hol­loway /The Cov­ing­ton News

Shakeem Hol­loway /The Cov­ing­ton News

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