Ryan Hurst, age 5, usually leaps into the outstretched arms of his father for a hug after an Eastside victory. After all, his father is the head coach for the Eagles.
And on Friday night - after a 24-3 win over crosstown rival Alcovy at Homer Sharp Stadium - things would be no different, despite Ryan falling asleep early; that hug would just have to come at a later time.
As a result, Eastside (6-2 overall, 2-2 Region 8-AAAA, Sub-region B) retained the county championship trophy for at least one more year.
"Oh, it's great," smiled Eastside head coach Rick Hurst after the game. "That was a big deal for us and our kids, and they took it to heart by playing their butts off."
During their season-opener, the Eagles blanked crosstown rival Newton, 31-0.
"I thought it was a good clean game and that's what this rivalry ought to be about," remarked Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffmann. "We just (have) to keep battling, but we're almost there."
Eastside did most of its damage in the first half, scoring on its first two possessions of the game, while racking up 315 yards of total offense and 14 first downs.
Despite having three turnovers and not completing a single pass in the second half, the Eagles mounted 245 rushing yards overall.
Meanwhile, Alcovy (2-6, 1-3) simply could not get its offense jumpstarted throughout the game, resulting in six punts, two turnovers and five drives of four-and-out.
After Alcovy's opening possession, the Eagles scored on their opening drive on just six plays. A shanked 2-yard punt by Alcovy kicker Timothy Walsh, who was pressured by Aaron Terrell, gave Eastside the ball at midfield.
With seven minutes and 38 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Larenzo Echols scored on a 1-yard run. It was set up by a 38-yard pass from quarterback Justin Wray to Johnny Norrington. After the extra point by Yanrick Tinker, the Eagles led 7-0.
Echols struck again on Eastside's next possession with a 41-yard run, setting up shop on Alcovy's own 39-yard line. However, Echols was injured on the play and is currently listed as day-to-day.
Several plays later it was a spinning Wray who found the end zone with an impressive 18-yard scamper at the 3:05 mark. The point-after by Tinker had Eastside leading 14-0 entering the second quarter.
Eastside added three more points in the second after a 27-yard field goal by Tinker with 11 seconds left until halftime.
But the Eagles came out flat in the third, tallying just 18 yards of total offense in the quarter while committing two turnovers because of a relentless Tiger defense.
"I take my hat off to my senior leaders," said Hoffmann. "They played like a team tonight. (Heck), they laid it on the line. But give credit to Eastside because they hung in there and did the right thing."
Alcovy would take advantage in the third with a 10-play drive of its own. It was set up by a 15-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Ledford to Cody Edwards, immediately followed by a 19-yard run by Malachi Outlaw.
The end result was a 30-yard field goal by Walsh with 6:11 remaining in the third, which cut the lead 17-3.
Outlaw had a game-high 77 yards on 16 carries.
"They took advantage of the adjustment we had made in the first half," noted Hurst, "but it kind of played in our favor."
Eastside would all but seal the deal after a 5-yard touchdown run by Rashad Hill at the 1:19 mark in the fourth. The point-after made it 24-3.
Hill, who led the Eagles with 9 carries for 73 yards, did an exceptional job filling in for the injured Echols.
"(Hill) is a special kid," praised Hurst. "He's lightning fast and he's got good hands. He's still learning the game, and once he learns what to do and what we're trying to do with him, he's going to be dangerous. He already is, but he's going to be even more of a threat the older he gets and the more he learns."
Wray was 8-of-18 for 135 yards and two interceptions. He also had 63 rushing yards on 11 carries, including one touchdown and one lost fumble.
Echols ended with 3 carries for 43 yards and one touchdown. Broderick Alexander had 6 carries for 41 yards.
Eastside's Andrico Bailey had four catches for 54 yards.
"Defensively, I thought we did some things in the secondary that was pretty good," said Hoffmann. "We got a ways to go, but we're going to get there."
Overall, Ledford was 12-of-27 for 130 yards and two picks. On the ground, he had 60 yards on 20 carries.
Alcovy's Eric Strozier led all receivers with 7 catches for 61 yards. Edwards had 3 receptions for 50 yards, including one interception.
"They played their butts off," praised Hurst of his defense for not allowing the big play. "They took away the run, and I was worried about that all night long, and they took away the pass, too.
"We played extremely well," added Hurst, "and I'm extremely proud of the defensive staff and the kids."
Defensively, William White led the Eagles with 7.5 total tackles, including one sack. Hunter Parker had 4.5 tackles, while Andrew Vazquez had 3.5, including one sack.
Eastside's Jamario Parks and Cale Davis each had one interception.
Alcovy's Kelvin Yates led all defenders with 8.5 total tackles. Keivan Rhodes added 5.5 tackles, while Babatunda Jegede had 3.5, including one fumble recovery.
Sophomore Bryan Daniel had a breakthrough performance for Alcovy that included 5.5 tackles and three pass breakups.
Qurdrell Carter recorded the lone sack for the Tigers, while Gary Wilkins had one interception.
Before kickoff, Hurst spoke to his team regarding something he read earlier that day.
"I just told them that for as much time and effort they put in, it'd be awful bad to come up short," said Hurst. "You just can't do that (because) too much time and effort has been put in not to be successful."