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6 takeaways from Tigers/Eagles
Rick Hurst and Kirk Hoffman shake hands and talk after the game.

With its strong running game Eastside pounded the ball and Alcovy into submission, winning 36-6 over city-rival Alcovy.

1. Austin Holloway is a stud. He accumulated over 200 total yards in the game. The way the Eagles’ use him on offense is smart, but still impressive.

“He’s a very intelligent player, he’s got great wheels. He can make things happen with his legs. He did that tonight, he got out a little bit but he was running the football effectively picking up seven/eight yards at a time,” Eagles’ head coach Rick Hurst said. “(He) just made some great throws and great reads. He’s a great player, but our offensive line did a good job up there giving him room tonight to throw.

“Running the football helps. When you can run the football and set up play action it makes a lot of things open.”

Holloway is only a sophomore, so he has room to grow physically, mentally and skill-wise. The Eagles’ don’t overuse him, and make him throw the ball downfield a lot. When Holloway does throw the ball, it usually isn’t longer than 15 or 20 yards, and that’s not to say that he can’t throw it deep. However, because he’s young it’s important to give him some confidence and as many easy looks as possible.

Holloway is usually pinpoint accurate with his passes, which is good despite the length of those passes. He’s aided by the Eagles’ ground game, which sets up those short passes/screens that the Eagles use. If there was a comparison, I’d say Holloway was like a shorter Johnny Manziel. He has the ability to create on the run and through the air. Holloway has a bright future, and the Eagles’ class of 2016 can cause some problems these next couple years.

2. The offensive line play from the Eagles was spectacular. They got the push they needed when it was necessary and it created big holes for the running backs. They also gave Holloway time to throw, and set up plays in the screen game. It remains to be seen whether Eastside can keep this up, as they are quite undersized for a line, but if they can the sophomores on that team will grow up fast.

3. Despite their success and execution, Eastside is still young. Of the almost 100 players on their team, 40 are sophomores, and most of them are leaders on the offense. However, the Eagles had many beat-themselves-up penalties, several coming on Alcovy’s only scoring drive of the game:

“I looked out there one time on that drive, we had sophomores and a freshman out there, but that still doesn’t give them a reason to drive 99,” Eagles head coach Rick Hurst said.

“Yeah, we had a couple penalties, but that’s a part of it. We played a lot of youth out there; so did they. Couple times in the second half we gave up a turnover, they could've broke and gave ‘em a score to put ‘em back in it; they didn’t do it. I thought we got after the quarterback very well. Arthur Holmes was all over the place just a monster game.” There were a few pass interference calls, some offsides calls and some false starts. Their execution was the strength but the small mental mistakes are something the Eagles will have to work on as they continue into the season.

4. Hickson is a year older than Holloway, and he’s taller. Holloway did outplay Hickson, but some of it has to be attributed to Alcovy’s inexperience on the offensive line (which you can read about below). Alcovy’s offensive line wasn’t able to get much push to provide Hickson with time to throw, but when they did Hickson came up long on some of his throws downfield when receivers were able to get separation. Hickson connected on some throws underneath and the one long one he had was Alcovy’s lone touchdown. Hickson throws a really good ball, but at times in the game he put too much air under it. Give him some time to grow during the season and he and D’Anthony Bell will be a nice one-two punch.

5. D’Anthony Bell, a senior, is just an all-around great player. He played pretty much every position, except quarterback, but he’d probably be great there to. “He’s a player. I think he’s one of the best players on this field tonight. He can play anywhere for us, we move him around and he makes plays. He’s a battler and I think the world of him,” Alcovy head football coach Kirk Hoffman said. Bell is the Tigers’ swiss-army knife. He lines up all over the field on both sides of the ball. Bell came up with big hits on defense and he also was easily the Tigers’ best playmaker on offense. He had 77 yards receiving on offense. He also came up with a big sack on defense. Bell looks like a player who’s mentally tough and he’s the Tigers unquestioned leader. He has range as a safety and he’s a strong decent-sized receiver. He can easily play at the next level.

6. Hoffman knows he has a young team, and he knows when you have a young team, the key is to be patient. Their youth and inexperience showed in the matchup against Eastside, especially in the first quarter.

“When you’re young you don’t know how to handle things. Offensively we shot ourselves in the foot. I don’t know how many dropped balls (we had). Then we drive it down, what? Twice in the third quarter with a chance to at least close the gap….We just gotta keep at it. I’ve said it all along, just keep getting better every week, just keep getting better every week and we will,” Hoffman said.

The Tigers were in position to put points on the board early if they’d been able to connect on a few easy passes underneath. On third-and-15 Hickson threw a good pass over the top that would’ve been good for about 20 yards, but it slipped through the hands of the receiver. Blocking was also an issue, as well as missed assignments in the screen game. The Tigers have a few good players such as Hickson, Bell and Kenyon Kelley. They also are backed by good play calling, give them time and they will grow as they play more. Hoffman says that you’re not young by the fifth game, and that’s when region starts.