Eastside didn't make any major changes during its week off but will still look like a slightly different team when it hosts Lanier tonight at Sharp Stadium.
The Eagles used its bye week to continue to work on fine tuning things as the Region 8-AAAA season goes into full swing, but also was able to accomplish something a little more pressing. Eastside had suffered several injuries early on in the season, and used the last week to get healthy. Among those players recovering from injuries are key defensive players Antonius Sims and Anthony Henderson.
"We'll get Anthony Henerson back and Antonious Sims back so that's a huge lift for our defense," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "That's two big ones that we need back."
The two players have been out after suffering injuries against Newton in the opening week of the season. Against the Rams, Henderson had three tackles in limited time, and Sims had five tackles, one pass breakup, one fumble recovery and a touchdown.
The two have spent the week trying to get back to that form, and are eager to get back on the field.
"It ought to be fun to watch them get out there and play," Hurst said.
Sims and Henderson will lead the Eagles defense against a team that has scored 17 points per game, including 20 in a loss to Monroe Area on Sept. 28.
The Longhorns (3-2, 1-1) are also coming off a bye week, giving coach Billy Wells time to get the third-year school ready for its third region contest.
"They're a well-coached football team, even though they're young," Hurst said. "Overall, they're young with a lot of sophomores and juniors playing. They're well-coached, and I know he's going to do a good job getting them ready to play."
The Longhorns won three straight before facing Monroe Area and are currently tied with Eastside for fourth in the region with identical records. Lanier and Eastside have both played Madison County with the Eagles picking up a 42-14 win and the Longhorns winning 14-7.
"They're the same record we have, 1-1, in region and they have a lot to look forward to with a win," Hurst said. "If they can do that, they're kind of in the same seat we're looking at. It's going to be a big game and a great opportunity for our kids."
The Eagles have been preparing for the opportunity since Monday, after using last week to work on Eastside, rather than the next opponent. Eastside usually uses Sunday to watch film of itself but had the chance to do so last week, and got to work trying to improve as a team. Along with health, the main thing Eastside needed to improve on was penalties.
The Eagles have had problems with false starts before the bye week, and set out to try to correct that.
"Hopefully, we can cut down on the penalties," Hurst said. "If we cut those down, we have a good chance of sustaining a drive. That's what has been killing us; anytime you start behind the chains, it's tough.