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Posted: October 25, 2012 9:35 p.m.

Eastide needs to ‘win to get in’

Eastside's theme during practices this week has been simple: Let's win and get in.

The Eagles (5-2, 3-1 Region 8-AAAA) have won three straight game and host Walnut Grove in a game tonight, which could lock them in as one of the region's top four seeds.

Eastside has one loss in region play, currently in third place, and holds the tiebreaker with all teams below them in the standings, with the exception of Stephens County. Eastside travels to Stephens County next week.

"Our goal is to win the ball game and get us in position to be in the top four and worry about the rest next week," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "Our focus is, ‘let's win and get in.' That's what we're going to do, not overlook them, not think ahead and concentrate on the task ahead of us and focus on what we need to do."

The Eagles are looking for their fourth straight win - the first time since late in 2010 when the fourth win was the first round of the playoffs - by welcoming the Warriors for homecoming.
Walnut Grove has lost four straight and have scored a total of 18 points over the last three. The Eagles area averaging 19.9 points allowed per game, while Walnut Grove has scored just 10.7 per contest.

Eastside is scoring 33.6 points per game, setting up a strong winning chance for the Eagles, which are coming off a 52-16 win over Lumpkin County.

"Obviously, they've had their struggles kind of like last week, and that worries me a little bit," Hurst said. "I don't know how our kids are going to respond to it."

They responded well against Lumpkin County and not only came away with a 36-point win, but also showed improvement from the week before.

Against Lanier, Eastside won 20-14, but gave up 14-straight second-half points. Against Lumpkin County, Eastside got a comfortable lead and didn't let up after that.

"Overall, we're getting better," Hurst said. "I see things that we're improving on. That's one thing we have to do, especially wins like last week and this week, hopefully, we'll see some improvement."

After a 32-0 win and a 23-14 victory, the Eagles lost two straight before finding their way a little more on offense.

Since then they showed improvement winning 42-14 and 20-14 before last week's rout.

A big reason for that has been injured players returning to the lineup and the increased productivity of Alex Smith. Smith, who was injured for the 2011 season, rushed for three touchdowns and over 150 yards last week.

"You try to get a player like that the ball as much as possible," Hurst said. "When you have that capability, you try to put the ball in his hands as many times as you can."

Smith will be running behind an Eastside offensive line, which will be contending against a lot of stunts and blitzes.

"Our offensive line is doing a good job of keeping their eyes open and heads up, making sure we're seeing those guys coming." Hurst said.

On offense, the Warriors use an unbalanced line, making Eastside's defensive line work on the proper alignments in practice this week.

After the Eagles and Warriors game today, Eastside will have a chance to climb up the standings with big matchups against Stephens County Nov. 2 and Monroe Area on Nov. 9.

"Once you get into the top 32, anything can happen," Hurst said. "We'll talk about seeding next week."

 

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