Eastside not only started the regular season off right with a big 50-6 win over Luella Saturday. It also gave the Eagles a 1-0 start in Region 4-AAAA, as both teams occupy that division. Here's what sports writer, Tyler Williams learned about the Eagles' performance.
1. The Eagles threw a curveball at not only Luella, but me as well. What was first thought to be a trick play on the second play for Eastside’s offense, in which (assumed) starting quarterback Brayden Harper caught a pass from back up Noah Cook, it was actually Eastside sending the message that Noah Cook was their starter for tonight — and perhaps the season — and that Brayden Harper would be his favorite target, much to the surprise of both Luella and many fans. More than 100 of Cook’s close to 200 passing yards were thrown to Harper, including a touchdown between the two displaying a connection that was effective for most of the first half.
2. Speaking of Cook, he looked needle point sharp. Cook also ran for a 3-yard score, in addition to his passing yards. Inserting him as the starter into the game really threw Luella off, who likely was planning to stop Harper, but instead found a young quarterback who looked calm, cool and collected under center all night. In the postgame interview with Hoff, the coach hinted at the possibility of having Cook start at quarterback again. That speaks volumes of the confidence that Hoff has in his young quarterback, and could make the offense more potent moving forward.
3. The running back position is LOADED. If you don’t include Noah Cook’s four-yard scramble into the end zone, the Eagles still scored FIVE touchdowns on the ground. Not only that, but four different running backs saw the end zone, with Taylor Carter having two scores in the game. Time and time again we’ve mentioned the potential three headed monster in Carter and Rockdale transfers Tyon Davis and Jordan Rogers, but when other running backs like Shamar Hunter and Quincy Cullins can also put up major production in the backfield, it bolsters the offense to an entirely new level. This talented group of backs could do some serious damage in future games.
4. Defense, Defense, Defense. It has been the subject of discussion all weekend with our three GHSA schools. After all, the saying goes, “defense wins championships.” If Saturday is any indication, the Eagles may very well be on their way to a region title run, if not more. In the first half of the game, not only were they getting consistent pressure on the quarterback with multiple sacks and hurries, but they also flew around the field preventing screen and slant passes from turning into big gains, while also stopping outside runs from breaking big all night. This defense is young and is still lacking a lot of experience, but against Luella, they looked like a strong, cohesive unit ready to do damage to anyone that gets in their way.
5. Doubters were silenced. As we stated in our pregame Facebook Live video, Eastside had lost 25 seniors from last season — at least nine of which we know were college football ready. That is a lot for a program that only dresses around 50 guys for a varsity game. This mass loss of depth raised many questions and concerns about whether the program would recover in time to make any noise during the season. However, despite only one game being played, this team silenced many skeptics about their ability to work as a unit and dominate on the field, much like the Eagles are used to doing. Granted, Luella didn’t look like world beaters. But the scary thing is, this Eastside team has room to improve, and will only get better. This should raise an alarm to defending region champs, Woodward Academy, that the Eagles are coming for that crown, and they’re coming hard.