The Eastside Eagles played plenty of tough teams throughout their 2012 football season, but, as the saying goes, they saved the best for last.
Monroe Area comes to Sharp Stadium with an unbeaten 9-0 record and a No. 4 state ranking according to the Associated Press.
The Hurricanes are averaging 47.2 points per game and have been carving up Region 8-AAAA teams with plenty of speed.
"We have a huge challenge ahead of us," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "We're hoping to stick with them honestly. When a team comes in 9-0 averaging 40-something points a game you just hope you can stay with them."
With the extra challenge of one of the state's top teams, Eastside shouldn't have any trouble focusing on the Hurricanes, rather than looking ahead. Having secured a playoff spot two weeks ago, Eastside knows it will be a fourth seed in the Class AAAA playoffs, traveling to Sandy Creek on Nov. 16.
However, despite knowing for sure their next game, the Eagles (6-3, 4-2) have to keep their sights set on the Hurricanes with the possibility of ruining a perfect season.
"We're playing someone that you might be supposed to beat, and you might be able to look ahead," Hurst said. "Right now we're not able to. Even though we're locked in we know where we're going, and it still doesn't give us a chance to look ahead and I don't want us to look ahead."
Another reason Eastside is focused on today's game, rather than next week, is because it is the final chance for seniors to step on to the field of Sharp Stadium.
"I'm kind of glad we're facing a team like this," Hurst said. "It prepares you mentally so you stay focused. You want to go into the playoffs with a lot of emotions and that's something we should be playing with (tonight) with our seniors being that that's their last game they'll be playing at Sharp."
In order to pull off a victory in the class of 2013's final game, Hurst said his team will have to keep everything in front of them defensively.
"We've got to play assignment ball," Hurst said. "They have so much speed on the field; they're so agile in the backfield."
The Eagles will be trying to chase down Monroe players with a few players who were thrust into the starting lineup last week. Eastside went without defensive ends Zach Kimmel and James Russell last week, and found out this week that neither player will be back for the rest of the year.
"It's tough to keep up your emotional high as well as the confidence level," Hurst said. "That's one thing that hurts when you have people out."
The Eagles were able to keep their confidence up last week, despite a 23-7 loss at Stephens County, due to the way they responded throughout the game.
Eastside went down early in the first quarter before holding the Indians for the rest of the game.
"The second half showed me that they're confident in what they're doing and they're capable," Hurst said.