Coming off a 28-12 homecoming victory a week ago against Lumpkin County, the Eastside Eagles travel to Loganville, Ga., tonight to face off against Walnut Grove.
With a 2-2 record in region play, the Eagles are tied with Lanier and Stephens County for the No. 3 position in Region 8-AAAA, so a win against the Warriors tonight is critical for the Eagles' playoff hopes.
"It’s imperative that we win Friday," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said, "It can certainly put us in a better spot come playoff time. I told the kids that we can’t talk about week 11 until we get there, and this game certainly helps that goal. We just have to keep winning. We’re concentrating on Walnut Grove, and once we get past this game we’ll worry about Stephens County and Monroe Area. Right now, we have to make sure that we take care of business Friday to keep ourselves in the running for a playoff berth."
The Warriors enter the contest with a 1-6 overall record and are winless in region play. Walnut Grove has been outscored 102-0 in its last two region contests against Chestatee and Monroe Area, but Hurst said that his players will need no extra motivation against the Warriors.
" I think part of our motivation will come from last week," he said. "We looked at the film from last week (against Lumpkin County), and it shouldn’t have been as close as it was. The kids know that. For our older guys, the motivation comes from having the chance to make the playoffs. Once you make it there, anything can happen. That’s what we’re shooting for and I don’t think we need any extra motivation to win a ball game. These kids have been here for a while and they understand that (making the playoffs) is our goal every year."
Hurst said that the Eagles' run game will have to be a big factor for Eastside to be successful against Walnut Grove.
The Eastside offensive line and running back corps have had added responsibility place on their shoulders while freshman quarterback Austin Holloway adjusts to starting for the Eagles.
"We have to do a better job up front of sustaining blocks," Hurst said.
"Our backs have got to get through the holes the line is offering them. We’re not sure where the hole is going to be, and we’re trying to bounce everything outside. That doesn’t work at this level. At the high school level, you have to hit the hole, and if it’s not there you have to stick your head down and pick up two or three yards and play again. We can’t lose yardage and try to work behind the chains."
Last season, the Eagles defeated Walnut Grove 55-20 in their only meeting against the Warriors in school history.
A win over the Warriors would also set up a date next week against Stephens County to possibly clinch a spot in the state playoffs.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.