This isn’t David vs. Goliath. Eastside (2-0 Region 4-AAAA) is too good of a team to be David, but Griffin (2-0 Region 4-AAAA), ranked No. 3 in the state by maxpreps.com, is definitely goliath-level football. A better comparison would probably be Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed — the first time — with Eastside being Rocky and Griffin, the undisputed champion, being Apollo.
Griffin has no shortage of Division I players. With 6-5 Christian Owens at wide receiver (committed to UGA) and 6-2, 205-pound safety Jordan Colbert (committed to Auburn), the Bears are going to cause problems for Eastside on both sides of the ball.
“Tough is an understatement,” Rick Hurst, Eagles’ head coach, said.
“There are some things we feel like we can do. Obviously, they’re a good football team. They’ve got Division l players running around everywhere,” Hurst added. “Sometimes when you see that it’s difficult to try to find holes. It’s like I told our players, ‘They’re high school players just like we are. They’re gonna make mistakes.’ Obviously, their coach is trying to make them better just like we are ours.”
The Eagles are coming off a win that saw them drive 97 yards with less than four minutes left against Baldwin and force overtime to come out victorious, 28-21. Hurst said that the win was a big win for the program and that it was awesome, but as soon it was over he moved on to Griffin.
“The kids understand, they watch film, they see them,” Hurst said. “I told them Monday, ‘If there’s anybody that’s afraid to get on the bus, fake an injury and stay at home. We don’t want you to go. I don’t want them going if they’re afraid of going down there and facing a team like this then they’re not playing for the right reasons.”
“It’s like I told our kids today (Wednesday), ‘These guys are gonna have film going to every school in the country. What better way to get your name out there, if you wanna play at the next level, than to go have a good game against these guys,’” Hurst said.
Hurst said that playing perfect football, execution and the kicking game are his three keys to victory against Griffin.
“We can’t make many mistakes. We’ve got to execute better than we have,” Hurst said. “I think we have to be able to slow them down on offense. We’ve got to find a way to limit their touches. Whether that’s slowing our tempo down or whatever, we’ve got to find a way to try to keep them off the field as much as possible.”
“We’ve got a little something that we may be able to scrape a few points from that part of the game (special teams) and hopefully that might be the difference.”
You can gameplan all you want, but there’s no ignoring the talent that Griffin has, and Hurst knows that. Still, Hurst knows that their talent doesn’t make them unbeatable.
Hurst said, “Every year somebody major in high school football goes down. Why not (let it) be us? Why not us take them down?”
Can Eastside do what Newton did last year when it beat No. 4 Lowndes? We’ll find out Friday night.