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Posted: September 26, 2013 7:36 p.m.

Eagles eager for Red Raiders

Anthony Banks/

The Eastside Eagles' defense has focused on shoring up tackles this week at practice in preperation for tonight's game against Madison County.

A season ago the Eastside varsity football team entered their fifth game of the year with a 2-2 record against Madison County.

The Eagles came out of that game with a 42-14 victory that began a 4-game win streak that turned Eastside's season around.

This Friday, the Eagles once again take on the Red Raiders sitting at .500 for the season. For coach Rick Hurst, Madison County presents an opportunity for his players to get their minds right after suffering back-to-back losses to Alcovy and Chestatee.

"I told the kids Friday night that we are sitting in the same spot we were last year," Hurst said. "There are some very similar things to last year's team. Last year we had injuries; this year we have young players. The mistakes are going to be there, but the mistakes are coming from our older players and that's the issue that we have to clean up.

"It's not our effort, it's our execution," he said. "The kids are playing hard, but we're not executing on either side of the ball right now. Until we fix the six inches between the ears, we're going to struggle."

The Eagles' minds will need to be right for a Madison County team that enters Sharp Stadium off a 34-8 loss to Lanier last Friday. The Red Raiders also started the season 2-0, but have dropped their last two games at home.

"Madison is a lot like we are and are playing a lot of young kids," Hurst said. "Against them we have to have more balance. We have to be able to run the football to open up the run game. It sets up the play action, it draws another defender into the box and it makes us more versatile. It makes us more dangerous overall."

Hurst said that the Eagles' biggest challenge will come on defense this week, as Eastside takes on another strong running program like they saw last week against the War Eagles.

"They are a lot like the team we saw last week," Hurst said. "They're not as big, but you can tell they feel comfortable running the option.

"I thought we did well at times last week, but we have to sure up some missed tackles," he said. "A lot of that comes from strength. It's a big part of only having kids in the program for a year or two instead of three. We have to be sure tacklers against Madison."

Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.

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