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Eastside Eagles football focusing on depth and team-building in spring workouts
Eastside Eagles football

The Eastside Eagles football program began its early work for the 2024 season during spring practices.

Following the end of their spring workouts, Eagles’ head coach Jay Cawthon shared his biggest takeaways from the team’s 10 days on the field.

“The biggest thing for us going into spring was developing some depth at some positions,” Cawthon said. “There are a lot of guys where it is now their time to see if they can play on Friday nights. It was the beginning of seeing where we can plug those young guys in.”

Specifically, Cawthon referenced the offensive line, defensive line and linebacker core as the three position groups where depth has been discussed the most.

“We feel like we have depth at our skill positions — wide receiver and running back. In trenches, you always want depth. In this sport, unfortunately, injuries can always happen. You’re always as good as your backups.”

Despite the need for depth in the linebacker room, that has not stopped senior Christian Gass from being a leader for Eastside’s defense.

Gass has received a ton of buzz during the offseason, as the senior linebacker garnered offers from the likes of Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Auburn. 

According to Cawthon, the increased attention has not changed the senior.

“He is a great player, but the thing about Christian is he is one of the most humble kinds [and] hard working kids. It hasn’t changed him one bit,” Cawthon siad. “That is what makes him special, because a lot of kids can’t handle the attention. He is a step above anything you want as a person and as a football player.

“What people don’t realize about Gass is that last year was his first year playing on Friday nights. His best football is ahead of him and he knows that.”

In years past, the run game has played a big part in the success of Eastside’s football team.

With the team’s 2023 leading rusher, Anquez Cobb, graduated, the room now turned over to Jayden Barr and Tyler Solomon.

“Those two guys — they are both good players,” Cawthon said. “Those two guys will be the cow bells. We always like to have three to four running backs since we do a lot of motion and jet motions. That three and four spot is up for grabs.”

Another key area for the Eagles offense in 2024 is at quarterback, with Payton Shaw.

Shaw is heading into his junior year and second official season as the starting quarterback for Eastside.

After passing for 1,649 yards and 11 touchdowns a year ago, Cawthon wants 2024 to be the year Shaw takes off.

“You can see the confidence,” Cawthon said. "We have had talks, this is the year we want to see him expand the horizons. Now he knows the offense, [and] I think we are going to be able to expand him more.”

With the spring workouts behind them, Cawthon and the Eagles now turn their attention to the summer workouts.

Offseason team activities and camps are already scheduled for the Eagles as Cawthon plans to strengthen the bond of the team going into August.

“Just to bring this team closer together,” Cawthon said. “Because it is only us out here in this 95 degree heat. There aren’t any college coaches around, it is about who really wants to be here.”