COVINGTON, Ga. — For the 17th consecutive season, Jay Cawthon roamed the sidelines for the Eastside Eagles football team. Last Friday night at Winder-Barrow High School, though, there was something different.
Instead of being the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, Cawthon walked onto the sideline as the head man. And in his first outing as head coach, the Eagles defeated the Bulldoggs 20-8.
Once the game ended, Eastside players doused Cawthon with an ice bath that christened the entire night.
“That was pretty special,” Cawthon said of the ice bath. “I did not see it coming. [All of the players] came up to me and said ‘hey, congratulations on your first win.’ That was really cool to know that was on their mind.”
As Friday’s game progressed, Cawthon saw a noticeable difference in his current role compared to his previous one.
For all of 23 years, Cawthon has called offensive plays for the team he has coached. Now, he’s delegated that responsibility to assistants.
As a result, Cawthon felt out of place on the sideline. He even stressed that was the biggest adjustment for him to make among other adjustments.
“That was the weirdest thing,” Cawthon said. “And just getting used to the view again. I like to see things, so I’m really adjusting where I need to be on the sidelines and letting our coaches coach. I want to stay out of their way because they’re all professionals and I trust every single one of them.”
Be that as it may, there was a constant that Cawthon was pleased about seeing in this year’s Eagles squad.
Cawthon said that Eastside has always been proud of the player’s competitive spirit throughout the years. That spirit was tested right out of the gate Friday night.
After only completing a couple of drives, the game went under a lengthy lightning delay that caused the game to restart at 9 p.m.
But the Eagles persevered and their motivational drive shone bright. Thanks to that drive, the Eagles brought home Cawthon’s first career win as a head coach.
As a matter of fact, Cawthon highlighted that the team’s play was the most rewarding part of the night.
“Just seeing our kids and how happy they were after the game,” Cawthon said. “It’s always rewarding to see our kids celebrating with smiles on their faces after the game in the locker room. It was a special night all around.”