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PREP FOOTBALL: Bye week restores the Eagles' focus, looking to maintain playoff seed
Stock image for Eastside Football - photo by Brian Worton

COVINGTON, Ga. -- It is no secret that the Eastside Eagles' loss to Woodward Academy two weeks ago was both heartbreaking and controversial. However, the game is behind the now 6-2 Eagles, who are coming off their bye week looking to refocus and finish the season strong.

“We had a good bye week,” head coach Troy Hoff said. “We had good focus and got good work in.”

Good focus is a good sign for the Eagles as they take on the last two games of the regular season. Although it can be hard to bounce back from a loss like the one that occurred in College Park, Hoff believes his players are regrouped, and that the bye was well-positioned after the emotional loss.

“It was a good point in the season to have one,” he said. “At this point in the year, if you’ve been playing a lot of football, everyone has something that is nicked up or hurts. We came back this week with good focus and a lot of good energy. We are right where we need to be, and have done everything to get here up to this point, so we just need to follow through with it.”

Although they are 6-2 and currently the second seed in region 4-AAAA, junior offensive lineman Dustin Morgan said the team wants more.

Eastside running backs Taylor Carter (pictured) and Tyon Davis will be looking to continue their recent hot streaks against Salem Friday night. Eastside's had 300-plus rushing performances in its last three games. - photo by Anthony Banks

“I wouldn’t say we are exactly where we want to be because we want to be 8-0, but we are pretty close,” he said. “We still have a tremendous opportunity in the playoffs and as a team.”

It is an opportunity that Hoff does not want to take for granted. Despite essentially qualifying for the playoffs, Hoff wants his guys to be careful and not look too far ahead.

“We know we are in, but we want to finish out and be the No. 2 seed and host,” he said. “At this point in the season, the last two games count towards where you are going to end up. We are focused on going 1-0 Friday night and that will get us one step closer to where we need to be in game 11.”

The Eagles will travel to Salem High School for their second-to-last-game of the season. The athletic Seminoles are currently holding on to the region's fourth and final playoff spot and could easily propel higher with a win over Eastside, making this game one of high importance for both teams.

And Hoff speaks like he knows it, too.  

“They are a very athletic team,” he said. “It poses a challenge because they have good players and have been playing good football. It is definitely going pose a challenge for us.”

But players like Morgan - who has helped lead the way up front for the Eagles’ potent rushing attack this season - say they refuse to be on the losing end of a second straight game.

“The bye week was our chance to get our feet back under us and be on the mend from the Woodward game,” he said. “The team is ready for Salem and still has the sour taste of a loss, and we won’t let it happen again.”

The Eagles travel to Salem on Friday Oct. 27 for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.