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Eagles look to pressure McDonald

Eastside quarterback Austin Holloway dropped back and delivered a pass to avoid taking what would’ve been a sack in practice on Wednesday. The Eagles’ defense quickly took down the receiver, something they’ve struggled with as of late, and head coach Rick Hurst praised his defense, but he also coached up players to what they needed to do right.

The Eagles will be without two of their best running backs against Eagles’ Landing this week, as Andrew Henderson and Eric Stokes will miss their second consecutive game, so the defense will have to step up. Improving the defense has been a key point in practice for a couple of weeks now. Eastside’s defense has been in position to make tackles as of late, but they’ve missed a lot, leading to touchdowns for the opposition.

Just in last week’s game against Jonesboro, Eastside missed at least five tackles on one play that turned what should’ve been a short gain to a 40-plus yard gain into Eagles’ territory.

The defense hasn’t been without success however, as the strong point of the defense has been the defensive line, led by senior defensive end Arthur Holmes. The d-line has been able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and disrupt the passing game.

“I feel pretty good about where we are. When you’ve got a defensive line like ours that can put pressure on the quarterback like we’ve done the last four games. Even against Griffin we got pressure on the quarterback. I think that’s going to be the key. Getting pressure up front and making sure that we don’t have anybody running uncovered, that’s the biggest thing,” Hurst said.

Eagles’ Landing quarterback, senior George “Mack” McDonald, passed for almost 400 yards against Union Grove in their season opener. Hurst knows that the d-line play will have a significant impact against Eagles’ Landing, as they have a precision passer at quarterback.

Hurst had an opportunity to see McDonald over the summer when Eastside beat Eagles’ Landing in a seven-on-seven passing tournament in West Georgia.

“He’s (McDonald) good. He puts the ball in good spots and allows those guys to make plays, and they got some good players,” Hurst said.

“He’s (Holmes) gonna get doubled and chipped and everything else. We gotta have some pressure up the middle,” Hurst added. “He’s (McDonald) not a huge running threat. I mean he will, but you don’t see a lot of designed stuff where he’s running. I think we gotta maintain our lanes on the corners, let Arthur collapse the pocket, but also the middle guys get pressure in his face so that if he does scramble we got a chance to get him from the d-end spot.”

The game against Eagles’ Landing will be Eastside’s first real region game, as the previous two were crossover games.
“This is when the real season counts. We put those two (losses) behind us,” Hurst said.

Rather than worry about the undefeated Golden Eagles, the Eagles are focusing on themselves this week.

“All we gotta do is keep our focus, try to get better at what we do and don’t worry about everybody else. That’s been our key,” Hurst said. “We can’t continue to worry about the opponent. We gotta worry about us and fix us.”