COVINGTON, Ga. -- The fifth-ranked and undefeated Eastside Eagles left no doubt in clinching its first region crown in nine years with a 41-0 blowout of Henry County Friday night.
With a Friday road game at Hampton being the final hurdle standing between Eastside being the first county school to finish a regular season undefeated, coach Troy Hoff's bunch showed no signs of slacking up.
Tyler Williams covered Friday's game and shared some of the things he learned from Eastside's big win.
1. The Eagles’ ground game gets more terrifying (for opponents) each week. The 422 team rushing yards they put up against Henry County speaks for itself. Eastside can decimate opposing defenses in multiple ways, just by running the football. Whether it is a wildcat keeper by Taylor Carter, a power run up the gut by Terrence Reid, or a sweep by Quincy Cullins, or even a quarterback keeper from Noah Cook (see Twitter for his 76-yard touchdown run), Eastside has a running game plan for every defensive scheme its faced, and it has proven to be successful and a big part of why they are 9-0. For the last few years, the Eagles’ bread and butter has been to run the football and control the game, and it has continually worked, no matter who is carrying the ball. Despite losing Carter and Jordan Rodgers after the season to graduation, they will still have Reid, Sincere Johnson, Cullins and Ramon Hernandez as a beastly stable of ball carriers.
2. We’re witnessing one of the best offensive lines in recent memory in the county. When your big guys up front have gone quite a few games without many holding calls, it is easy to tell that they are a talented group. In the Woodward Academy game, there was not a single holding penalty committed by them, which was a huge deal in such a close win. Although it is well known that they can run block with ease, they also are really good at keeping the pressure off of Noah Cook in passing situations. There is a reason they get continual praise from the skill players on the team. This line isn’t the biggest in size, but they are fearless, and will go head-to-head against anyone for a full 48 minutes. The best part about this unit is they are only losing one senior in the starting group.
3. That defense deserves all the credit in the world as well. 104 points. That is all the Eagles’ defense has allowed in nine games, and over half of those points came in two games against Newton and Woodward. They give up just 11 points per game. Meanwhile, they have well over 10 interceptions on the season, with another one being added to the team leader, Antavious Cobb’s tally in Eastside’s shutout win over the Warhawks. Speaking of shutouts, they have three of them on the season, which is not the most they have had in one season, but it shows they are effectively taking care of business against teams they should be shutting down with ease.
4. One is the magic number. It’s simple. If the Eagles win against Hampton next week, they will finish the regular season 10-0, something that has never been done before by a Newton County football team. Now that they have the region title and No. 1 seed secured, it is hard for the team not to get at least a little excited about the potential of making even more history. And although it would be something special to celebrate, they know that the season will not be over, come November 2, win or lose, and that there is even more to play for in the coming weeks. However, a 10-0 regular season would add a little extra motivation moving into the playoffs.
5. Playoffs picture becomes clearer. Eastside has secured the top seed for region four. According to the GHSA playoff bracket, it will face off against the last seed in Region 1-AAAA. The way it stands now, the Eagles would either be playing Westover (6-3), Americus-Sumter (3-6), Columbus (5-4) or Northside Columbus (4-5), who are all locked in a tight race for playoff positioning. Time will tell which team it draws in the first round, but regardless, Eastside will get to host, giving the Eagles a great advantage.