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Posted: September 6, 2012 8:08 p.m.

Looking to remain unbeaten

Eagles seeking strong defense, improved offense

Just one week into the 2012 football season, only one unbeaten area team remains after Eastside's opening week win over Newton.

However, the Eagles will take on a much tougher test to go 2-0 as Jackson visits Sharp Stadium today, also looking for its second win.

The Red Devils defeated Mary Persons 24-23 last week after rallying from a 21-10 deficit late in the third quarter. DeEric Bell led the way with two touchdowns and 162 yards rushing for Jackson, which is ranked No. 8 in the AJC's Class AAA poll.

Stopping the running game will be the Eagles first priority, pitting their talented defensive line against a tough offensive line.

"I think defensively we have to continue to play aggressive," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "They have a tailback who runs very hard."

Watching film from the Red Devils' first game, Hurst said he was impressed with Bell breaking through tackles. On one play, Bell went into a pile of six defenders, before emerging for a 10-yard gain.
"We have to make sure we gang tackle and get to the ball effectively," Hurst said.

While Jackson excelled at running the ball against Mary Persons, it also has the ability to move the ball through the air, behind an efficient quarterback.

"They like play-action a lot so we have to make sure the secondary is staying home and let the front eight play the run," Hurst said.

The Eagles shut out Newton a week ago behind a solid defense, which Hurst is looking to continue to step up.

However, the offensive side of the ball is where Hurst is looking for the most improvement.

"We did some things last week that didn't hit," Hurst said. "Hopefully we have corrected some mistakes and will have a total team performance."

Newton held the Eagles to under two yards per carry, while Eastside's passing offense struggled. In week two, against a team that won't draw as big of a crowd as the Newton-Eastside rivalry, Hurst feels his quarterback Demario Terrell, will show improvement.

"I think Demario Terrell didn't play his best and he knew it," Hurst said. "Coming in Monday, he knew he hurried up and really wasn't going through his reads properly. It was a little difficult for him."

Along with Terrell, Eastside's offensive line also has to step up as the Red Devils boast two top-tier players, including a Vanderbilt committee.

"They're very comparable to Newton as far as defensively," Hurst said. "They've got a good defensive line."

Eastside has defeated Jackson each of the previous three meetings between the two teams, but will face a tougher challenge against the Red Devils this year. Jackson, of Region 2-AAA, shared a region with Eastside before the Georgia High School Association's reclassification, where the Eagles edged out the Red Devils by a game a year ago.

"We faced them last year and did some good things against them," Hurst said. "If we're going to have a chance to win the ball game (today), we definitely have to do that."

 

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