Eastside football coach Rick Hurst's game plan coming into the season was simple, spread the ball around and play solid defense. That's just what the Eagles did as they shutout Harris County 28-0 to kickoff the football season Thursday at Sharp Stadium.
"This group has played a lot of football since their sophomore year so they understand how to get themselves ready," Hurst said. "We came out ready to play."
The Eagles spread the ball all over the field and used a nice mix of run and pass to open up an early lead they would never surrender.
"Everybody contributed tonight," Hurst said. "A lot of folks touched the ball. I don't know how many, but a lot. It was exciting to see everyone get involved."
Bridecous Aiken set the tone right from the beginning when he took the opening kick 50 yards to give his team the ball on its own 45 yard line. Eastside followed with a nine-play scoring drive capped off by a Broderick Alexander touchdown from two yards out and the Eagles took the early 7-0 lead.
Eastside took the ball right back after Harris County fumbled the ball on its third play from scrimmage. With the ball on its own 38 yard line, Eastside wasted no time as they took advantage of the short field, this time through the air. Quarterback Justin Wray completed three passes on the drive including a touchdown to Tradarius Maddox from five yards out and the Eagles pushed their lead to 14-0.
Midway through the second quarter, Eastside looked to take a commanding 21-0 lead into halftime. After a seven-play drive that saw Wray throw four straight completions, the Eagles fumbled the ball into the end zone to give the ball back to Harris County.
Needing a lift, Eastside's defense responded and the Eagles led 14-0 at halftime.
Eastside opened up the second half much like it did the game, putting together a six-play; 62 yard drive capped off by Wray's 15-yard touchdown scamper and held a 21-0 lead with 5:20 to play in the third quarter.
The defense played solid all game, limiting Harris County to 72 yards of total offense and 108 yards for the game while keeping the Tigers off balance all night.
"They fly around," Hurst said of his defense. "I told one of the coaches it's like watching a bunch of green bees flying around. It's what we preach in practice."
Eastside never let up offensively in the second half as they pushed the lead to 28-0 with 5:43 left to play. Greg Griffieth punched it in from one yard out and the Eagles never looked back.
While the Eagles played solid on both sides of the ball, Hurst's seen a good start before and cautioned his players not to get over confident.
A bruised thigh limited Wray's mobility, but he received good protection all night. Even with a young offensive line, Eastside managed to give Wray time to throw. After completing his first nine passes in the first half, Wray finished the night 11 for 14 and 126 yards.
"He made some adjustments and threw some good balls tonight," Hurst said. "You saw what he could do when he wanted to. He lulled them to sleep that one time and he got him one."
Hurst said he was a bit concerned with the short week but overall, he felt his team played as good as it could for its first game.
"We put the ball on the ground but we caused some turnovers," he said. "They surpassed what I was anticipating. They executed to the highest level than we have in a long time."