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Eastside strong despite loss
Eastside High School football coach Rick Hurst looks on as his team practices. The Eagles (2-1) take on Jonesboro (0-3) for their homecoming on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

It was a mismatch.

Eastside knew it. Griffin knew it. The fans knew it. But with any sport, you have to play it out just to be sure because who knows what can happen when the rubber meets the road? The answer: probably what you’d expect when Griffin topped Eastside 53-7 last week.

Eagles’ head coach Rick Hurst said that Griffin is one of the best teams in the state and that he told his sophomores to file the game away. In a year or two, he said they can do the same thing to them.

“We looked at effort. And at 53-7 they were still playing hard, and that’s all I can ask,” Hurst said.

“They missed a lot of tackles, but as far as playing hard and hustlin’ and doing the things that we wanna do to see the growth that we need to see, they did it,” Hurst said. “The missed tackles cost us. It cost us probably three to four touchdowns, and when you take those away now it’s a little bit more respectable. I think that our guys have moved past it. I’m hoping that we got a bunch that would like to play ‘em again in late November. We win the rest of ‘em, that’s what happens.”

After several missed tackles lead to Eastside’s lopsided defeat, Hurst and his staff have focused on defense in practice this week in preparation for Jonesboro.

“Jonesboro is very athletic,” Hurst said. “We gotta do the exact same thing against this bunch that we did Friday except we gotta tackle better. We’ve worked on that all week, we’ve stressed it all week. I saw a lot of good things defensively.”

According to Hurst, after initial contact Griffin gained 370 yards. Hurst says that against Jonesboro, they will have to secure the game up front. Griffin has a stout defensive line with ends who get off the ball well and know how to use their hands.

“It’s gonna be a challenge for us to be able to get past that and get into the secondary. I think if we get the backs to get into the secondary, then I think we can make things happen,” Hurst said. “Hopefully we’ll confuse them a little bit with our tempo. If we can get it going where we’re making substitutions and a lot of formations at them, sometimes that gives teams problems that haven’t played against it.”

Jonesboro is winless, but Hurst knows their record is deceiving. It’s also Eastside’s homecoming, but Hurst says that isn’t an issue for the players.

“There’s no pressure on them. They just wanna go out there and play better than what they played Friday night,” Hurst said. “They know they didn’t play well. They know they faced a good football team, one of the top teams in the state. They know deep down that they didn’t play the way we’re capable of.”

Hurst said the loss against Griffin will make them better. It begins with Jonesboro.