East­side vic­tory sets up 2nd-place clash.

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - gsto­vall@cov­news.com

It was a night of firsts for East­side foot­ball on Fri­day.

In a game where both East­side and Salem had a lot to play for as far as post­sea­son seed­ing goes, East­side looked like the hun­grier team from the be­gin­ning, and car­ried that hunger out for a full four quar­ters as the Ea­gles eas­ily de­feated Salem 49-14, set­ting up a Re­gion 4-AAAA clash for sec­ond place this Fri­day against North Clay­ton.

It was the pro­gram’s first vic­tory against Salem in six tries.

The Ea­gles wasted no time push­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tor on of­fense, when Austin Hol­loway went up top to Josh Sims on the game’s first play for a 47-yard pass that im­me­di­ately put the Ea­gles in scor­ing po­si­tion.

Four plays later, it was An­thony Brown find­ing his way into the end zone to give East­side an early 7-0 lead.

“We def­i­nitely started fast tonight, which is some­thing we al­ways wanna do,” said East­side coach Troy Hoff. “That’s kind of our M.O. with tempo. So we started fast, took care of our quar­ter­back all night, and any­time we can do that, we feel like we can hit some shots.”

Af­ter East­side’s quick score, both de­fenses held serve for the next cou­ple of se­ries, as East­side forced a three-and-out, while Salem’s De’mor­real Bur­nam, a Ten­nessee com­mit, picked off an er­rant Hol­loway pass that looked like the re­sult of a mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween quar­ter­back and re­ceiver.

The Semi­noles were un­able to muster any of­fense af­ter the turnover, how­ever, and af­ter East­side par­tially blocked the en­su­ing punt, the Ea­gles went 28 yards in four plays, cli­maxed by Tay­lor Carter’s four-yard stroll into the end zone un­touched, stretch­ing East­side’s lead to 14-0, still with 4:37 left in the first quar­ter.

East­side would get the ball right back when Caleb Allen picked off Don­ald Wil­son’s pass three plays later and re­turned it a few yards to set the Ea­gles up on its own 37 yard line. Hol­loway al­most hit Sims on an­other long pass­ing play that would’ve been a sure touch­down, but Sims dropped it. The Ea­gles made up for it six plays later though when Hol­loway con­nected with Ja­mari Brown on a 37-yard scor­ing strike to give East­side a 21-0 lead.

Two of­fen­sive pos­ses­sions later, Brown would push his way in to score from six yards out, pro­vid­ing the Ea­gles with a 28-0 half­time lead.

As ur­gently as East­side be­gan the game, Salem started off the third quar­ter the same way.

Wil­son con­nected with Kee­van Bai­ley on a 64-yard touch­down pass at the 10:08 mark to cut East­side’s lead to 28-7.

East­side an­swered quickly, though, when Carter burst through the heart of Salem’s de­fense, juked one de­fender, spun off an­other, and darted down the field for a 52-yard score. Carter fin­ished the game an un­of­fi­cial to­tal of 137 rush­ing yards and three touch­downs on 12 car­ries. He came into the game with 399 yards and five touch­downs on the sea­son, and Hoff said he likes the de­vel­op­ment of his young ball car­rier.

“Yes, we do ex­pect that kind of pro­duc­tion from him,” Hoff said. “He’s just a sopho­more, but what you saw tonight, that’s what you see in prac­tice. He’s the type of kid who’s very foot­ball savvy for his age. I’d like to have a cou­ple more of him, but he’s do­ing a great job.”

Salem tried to mount an­other scor­ing drive to an­swer, but once it got in­side the Ea­gles’ five yard line, the East­side de­fense stiff­ened for four straight plays, turn­ing the Semi­noles away.

Four plays later, Hol­loway found Bray­den Harper on a short pass over the mid­dle. Harper did the rest of the dam­age, break­ing two tack­les and rum­bling 83 yards for a touch­down.

Be­lieve it or not, it got worse for Salem be­fore the end when Nick Gaithers made a leap­ing grab to pick off an­other Wil­son pass. East­side’s Hol­loway would take a quar­ter­back keeper around left end for 28 yards which set up a nine yard touch­down run from Carter on the first play of the fourth quar­ter, to pad East­side’s lead to 49-7.

Shon­dell Edghilll got in for a four yard score for Salem in garbage time to pro­vide the fi­nal score. And East­side’s dom­i­na­tion left first year Salem coach Jar­rett Laws im­pressed with the Ea­gles, yet still op­ti­mistic with his own squad.

“East­side is a team that’s four years strong,” Laws said. “They’re se­nior heavy, and they’ve done a great job with that class. You’ve got guys who have won cham­pi­onships in sev­eral sports, par­tic­u­larly track, and th­ese kids have played nearly 40 games to­gether. There’s not much you’re go­ing to give them that they haven’t seen. I’ve got great re­spect for Troy (Hoff) and their scheme. They scheme you well, and you have to have vet­eran snaps in order to rec­og­nize their keys. Our guys don’t have that yet, but we’re work­ing, and we still have a shot at the post­sea­son next week.”

East­side’s play­off berth has al­ready been clinched. The win upped the ea­gle’s record to 6-2-1 and 3-1 in Re­gion 4-AAAA. Now the Ea­gles will travel to Riverdale to face North Clay­ton (5-4, 3-2) next Fri­day in a game that, if East­side wins, will al­low them to lay claim to sole pos­ses­sion of sec­ond place in the re­gion, guar­an­tee­ing an op­por­tu­nity to host a first round play­off game.

North Clay­ton de­feated Henry County Fri­day night 38-0, and Hoff said his team al­ready knows how big next week’s matchup is and how much it’ll mean to get that first round home game.

“That’s what it is. We’ve been talk­ing about it all week,” Hoff said. “The play­offs start in an­other week or so, but th­ese games are play­off games. We’re fight­ing to get game 11 at home. We like play­ing here. The kids love play­ing here. We’ve got great ad­min­is­tra­tion, great stu­dent and fan sup­port, and any time you’re able to play at home, there’s a com­fort level for you. We feel if we can get that home game, it’s an ad­van­tage for us.” GABRIEL STO­VALL Ea­gles fly out to 49-14 win over Salem

Gabriel Sto­vall | The Cov­ing­ton News An­thony Banks (27) and Tay­lor Carter (not pic­tured) led East­side with a pun­ish­ing rush­ing at­tack in the Ea­gles’ 49-14 win over Salem Fri­day night.

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