While most of the people of Newton County have locked themselves inside their homes to avoid the cold, baseball and soccer players have been playing outside in the “wonderful” weather. Eastside soccer has started its season 0-2, but the team has yet to be at full health and head coach Champ Young isn’t worried about the slow start.
“It’s a learning curve right now, but it’ll get better,” Young said.
Young says that the whole back line from last year is back and that they’re solid defensively. The Eagles proved so against Heritage, one of the best teams in the state, when they held them to two goals and stopped a number of shots. Eastside played good defense inside the box and might have won the game had they converted a few opportunities.
“We really hadn’t touched on offense at that point, what we want to do and who we want to be as much. With our personnel being out so much between injuries and sickness this year, which I’ve never had it hit me like it has this year,” Young said, speaking of the team’s offense. “Just the fact that, we’re not really deep this year. It’s just one of the things that we have to work at and it’ll be better at the end of the year than it is now.”
Eastside’s midfield is brand new and they’ve added some new players to the team, who haven’t had the chance to the mesh with the rest of the team just yet in Jovan Brown and Angel Perales. Young says Brown might be the fastest kid in the school and Perales, a transfer from Cherokee High School, is a good midfielder.
Young says he changed their formation this year to a 4-4-2, which is a different formation than what they’ve ran the past three years, in order to better match the personnel the Eagles have this year.
“We talked about it earlier this year – the seniors and I did – we talked about for us to make a good run in the state playoffs, which is always our goal to make the state playoffs and in some capacity to be in the top four, but this year to make a quality run and kind of avoid some of the really, really good teams in the other brackets.
Young hopes that the Eagles can lock up a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. He’ll get the opportunity to see what his team has at full strength against Newton on Saturday (yesterday).
“It really is much more favorable to you as far as the schedule,” Young said of locking up a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs.
“Your draw is a lot better if you’re the one or two. Because if you’re the three or the four you gotta go to them [St. Pius] and they’re like No. 1 or No. 2 in the state and we don’t want to go there,” he added laughingly.
Tyreke Francis, who had a couple of shots on goal against Heritage, is poised to be one of the team’s best players.
“His goal this year when we talked about was, not only set records for goals for our school, but to also lead our team in assists and make sure that he’s always on point with what he needs to be doing around the ball as well. Making those strong runs off the ball because he’s going to garner a lot of attention from players when we play better teams. Making sure he’s creating space for other players,” Young said of Francis.
Tyreke’s brother, Terrell Francis, is a huge part of the strong back line that the Eagles have along with Jerry [couldn’t make out the last name due to background noise]
“We’ve played two good teams and athletically we haven’t seen anybody better than those two. They’re pretty lockdown back there,” Young said.
Young believes his team is good enough to compete with the best of the best athletically, they just have to become better soccer players and they’ll be able to reach their goals.
“Right now as a group we’re better athletes than we are soccer players, but it’s getting there,” Young said.
The Eagles have started slow, but are poised to finish strong and if they can put the soccer aspect of the game together they can reach their goal of locking up a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.