Two weeks ago before the game between Eastside and Alcovy, I asked Eastside head coach Rick Hurst about this rivalry.
He replied by saying it's not really a rivalry, and that they were both too young to be considered a rivalry.
But I would have to strongly disagree with that statement after watching them play Friday night. I witnessed the birth of a great football rivalry in Newton County as a father witnesses the birth of his first child. The passion and the intensity from both teams that evening gave me goose bumps.
I have covered Alcovy football since day one. I know what the Tigers are capable of doing. However, watching Eastside for the first time ever this season made me a believer that the Eagles have a real shot of making a trip to the Dome during the playoffs.
When watching Russell Corley, Jordan Ritchey, Kyle Durand, James Johnson and Brandon Durepo fire off the line of scrimmage for Eastside, it was poetry in motion. The speed and power from this group is menacing; the Eastside offensive line is in essence a joy to watch.
The same goes for the Eastside defensive front, as well. I loved observing Andrew Vasquez, Aaron Terrell, Kevin Agudo and Jay Maddox get after anyone carrying the football. I loved watching those four young men play with extreme aggressiveness.
And I imagine watching tape on those guys makes an offensive or defensive coordinator from opposing schools go gray, bald or both trying to prepare for them.
If Eastside considers making a serious run for the Region 8-AAAA title, it would be because of the play of the offensive and defensive lines.
But the Alcovy/Eastside matchup was more than a football game. Despite Eastside defeating Alcovy 24-3, I didn't see any winners or losers from either side. Both teams displayed the very best that Newton County has to offer, especially with how things are panning out for Newton this season.
Before the game, I spoke with Brett Carson, who played for Eastside early on before transferring to Alcovy. I recall looking into his eyes before the game; he couldn't wait to get that party started.
Carson gave all that he had playing center. The loss was painful, evident from the tears strolling freely down his face, but he made Eastside earn that win. As talented as the defense line is for the Eagles, he didn't give up, and Carson should be proud of that.
If anyone should be the MVP of the night during the matchup, it should be Keivan Rhodes, who never left the field. He played offensive line, defensive line and linebacker throughout the entire game.
Keivan was tried, bruised and battered. Yet, he was like a warrior of old. He would not rest until he achieved the victory. He may have not won the game, but he has earned the admiration from his coaches, teammates, and fans.
I really enjoyed witnessing something special taking place between these two solid football programs.
You cannot tell me that this is not a rivalry: Two nearby schools working to define its own identity and establish its own unique tradition is never easy. The win on either side is a building block toward a great reputation for both football programs.
Alcovy and Eastside were birthed from Newton County and I don't believe either school wants to be known as the ugly-step child. The series between these two schools will only grow and get better with time.
Alcovy and Eastside is a perfect example of one chapter closing from that one game only to wait 364 more days, full of dislike, until you have to play each other again.
And that's how a rivalry is born.
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