LOGANVILLE, Ga. – The Eastside Eagles were looking to kick off their season with a potentially momentum-boosting scrimmage game against Walnut Grove in which the varsity teams tied 7-7 in their one half of play.
And although Eagles fans only got a small sample size of the 2017 squad, Eastside coach Troy Hoff said he was pleased with what he saw.
“Our guys came out and played with a lot of energy,” Hoff said. “We still have some things to clean up with execution, but I love how we’re flying around.”
The entire half was dominated by both defenses, starting with short drives from both teams before Walnut Grove began moving the ball with some regularity. However, they were stopped by one of the many Eastside quarterback sacks from a swarming defense that would prevent the Warriors from scoring a single offensive touchdown.
Flying around is exactly what the defense did throughout the half as they consistently were getting four or five guys to the ball each play, while also disrupting Walnut Grove’s passing game.
As for the offense, Eastside would begin finding its groove on the ground while utilizing a potent 1-2 punch from the dynamic tailback duo of Tyon Davis and Taylor Carter.
“We’re looking for a lot of production out of the running back position,” Hoff said. “There’s young guys pushing them as well, and that’s what it takes. They complement each other well, and collectively, we are getting a lot of production out of that group.”
When it seemed like the Eagles would strike first blood in the game, quarterback Brayden Harper threw a pass that was snatched away from his receiver by Walnut Grove’s Donique Wilson, who would return it 95 yards to put the Warriors ahead 7-0.
However, this would not shake Harper who drove right back down the field completing two huge passes before capping the drive off with a 12-yard touchdown strike to Jamari Brown to tie the game. The bounce-back for Harper was one that Hoff expected from his offensive leader.
“He’s that type of kid,” Hoff said. “He knew the read, and he knew what he was looking at, but things happen, and he moved on. He is someone who isn’t going to carry it with him in the next series. That’s what it takes at that position, a short memory. You just go on to the next one.”
The rest of the half saw the defensive battle continue, with Walnut Grove forcing back to back turnovers on Eastside. But the Eagles’ defense showed resilience once again by not allowing any big plays before the clock expired on the first half, sending the varsity players to the bench and the JV out in the second half with a 0-0 score reset.
Overall, Hoff noted one key aspect of play that the team needs to focus on to prepare for their regular season opener next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Luella.
“We need to work on execution across the board,” he said. “I like the effort and I like how we are playing hard, but it takes more than that. Early in the season, when we are a young team with not a lot of experience, we hope to see a lot of growth on the first week to the second.”