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Eastside High football still raising the bar
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The Eastside High football squad held its annual spring scrimmage game Friday evening on the Eastside practice field with a shivering throng of enthusiastic well-wishers in attendance hoping to catch an early glimpse of the 2008 Eagles.

Fans were not disappointed, as the Eagles put on a pretty good show for the Eastside faithful, who were clad in green and white to show support for head coach Rick Hurst and his polished crew.

"I thought it went well," Hurst said. "Obviously, I think the defense outplayed the offense a little, but we don't have as much in our offense yet."

Although quarterback Justin Wray looked sharp in the passing game, he was not allowed to show off his running ability because Hurst did not want to take the risk of injuring his talented signal caller.

"We don't have everything in the offense right now," Hurst said. "We've just got our basic stuff for now."

Wide receiver Anderico Bailey was in mid-season form, running precise routes and showing off his speed to get behind the secondary while catching the ball with his soft hands that makes him a ripe future college prospect.

The running game, particularly the combination of Rashad Hill and Gerard White, looked equally impressive, as both should have a spectacular season.

And the defense was remarkable, flying around the ball from start to finish.

"I'm really pleased at what I saw on the defensive side even though we lost a lot of guys from last year," Hurst noted. "We're faster than we were last year."

In addition, Hurst is glad to have Karl Williams back after missing last season due to injury.

"Karl makes a whole big difference in our defense," Hurst said.

Although Hurst was pleased of his team's overall performance, he still insists they've got a lot of work to do.

"I saw some good things," Hurst said. "I also saw some good looking young players coming up. A lot of the kids did well. I'm excited about this team, excited as I've been in 15 years of coaching. We've just got to have a great summer and continue to get better."

By the end of the scrimmage it was easy to visualize the Eagles competing deep into the month of November.

Eastside will move to Class AAA in the fall, which puts them in the same division as Stephens County, who went 11-1 overall last season without losing a single region game.

"The region will be just as tough as the region we just left," Hurst said. "When you've got to go up against Stephen County and Hart County, they are two of the best AAA programs in the state. We're just hoping we can compete with them, and I think we can.

"We don't know them and they don't know us," he added, "so it's kind of an even slate."

From watching the team in scrimmage play, one gets the feeling it is eagerly awaiting the challenge.

Scrolled on the backs of the coaches' shirts was the phrase "Raise the Bar."

If the Eagles live up to the inscription, that can only translate into playoffs.