With only four games remaining in the 2012 regular season, every game matters more and more each week.
For Eastside and Lumpkin County, which meet up on the football field at 7:30 p.m., today's matchup has even more importance. Both teams are 2-1 in Region 8-AAAA play, chasing unbeaten Chestatee and Monroe Area.
"They're in the same position we are...both 2-1 in region," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "It's a big game for them, a home a game and a long way for us to travel."
Along with the 101-mile bus ride - Eastside will stop for dinner in Lawrencville - it's also the first time many of the Eagles players will compete on a turf field.
The Eagles will take a pre-game walk over the field before the 7:30 p.m. start time, but other than that the turf shouldn't bring too much of a difference. Many of Eastside's skill players - receivers, running backs and quarterbacks - participated in passing leagues over the summer on Sprint Turf, but others are yet to see it.
The Sprint Turf is different from the old Astro Turf, where players were required to wear shoes similar to tennis shoes. Nothing changes for Eastside Friday other than getting used to the field of the turf, often filled with rubber or sand.
"The turf is a lot like grass and everything stays the same, except we'll need to make sure they get the feel for it," Hurst said.
The Indians are coming off a 13-12 win over Walnut Grove on Sept. 28 and a 34-20 win over Madison County on Oct. 12. Madison County is a team the Indians and Eagles have in common, with Eastside winning 42-14 on Sept. 28.
Eastside then went on to defeat Lanier 20-14, after taking a 20-point lead last week.
The Longhorns were able to come back in the fourth quarter, and that is something Hurst is hoping Eastside can improve on.
"We kind of got lax in the fourth quarter," Hurst said. "They know we can't allow that to happen against a good football team. We put ourselves in a situation that we almost regretted. We want to make sure we're on top of it for four quarters."
Doing so may be a little easier with Eastside getting players returning to full health. Anthony Henderson and Antonious Sims returned to the Eagles last week, and will continue to get back to full strength today.
However, Eastside is still waiting for the return to health of Jamondi Smith and Chase Chancey, who suffered a sprain against Lanier.
The Eagles face Stephens County and Monroe Area to end the seson, after hosting Walnut Grove on Oct. 26.