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Defensive silent assassin
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Maurice Gaither doesn't say a whole lot. He's a soft-spoken, humble athlete who has quietly helped lead the Eagles to an overall 5-2 record this season.

But he doesn't have to say much; he lets his game do all of the talking.

In the 36-29 win over Heritage last week, Gaither, a senior linebacker, had four tackles - including one for a loss - and one forced fumble. He also had two quarterback pressures and a solid 82 percent grade.

During the previous week against Cedar Shoals, Gaither had 8.5 tackles and one forced fumble. In addition, he had three quarterback pressures.

"I felt like we played a real good game," said Gaither. "We made a real good statement against (those) teams."

Based on his performance, Gaither has been selected as the Chick-fil-A Prep Athlete of the Week.

"He's a player's coach, he really is," said Eastside head coach Rick Hurst. "He doesn't say much, but when he speaks people listen; I enjoy being around Mo."

After the game against Heritage, Gaither surprised Hurst by speaking out, telling his team they had to forget about that win and focus on Alcovy.

According to Hurst, Gaither has been playing lights out football all season long on the defensive end.

"He's a very physical kid," said Hurst, "and is probably one of our most physical kids out there. He doesn't mind contact, never has. He's so strong and is strong as anybody we've had. He can definitely make some highlight reels as far as hitting goes."

Gaither said that the difference between this year's team and last year's squad has been the experience, including the leadership that the seniors, like Gaither, have brought forth to the team.

"Everybody (is) willing to get after it," said Gaither of the upperclassmen.

Along with the entire coaching staff, Gaither credits Eastside assistant coach Jason Tester for helping develop his game. In addition, his older brother, Alexander, who played football at Newton High School, has helped him along the way.

"If I had to pick a most valuable player on defense right now, he'd be it," complimented Hurst. "He's played extremely well all year. He always works hard, and he's just a special kid."

Gaither is especially ready for the crosstown matchup tonight against the Alcovy Tigers. Last year the Eagles won 42-14.

"This is the same little Eastside team trying to get a little win in," said Gaither. "It's going to be a good defensive game."

Besides football, which consumes most of his time, Gaither runs track. Other than those two sports, including plenty of schoolwork, there isn't much time for anything else.

Even if that includes not saying much.