McDONOUGH, Ga. — On Thursday afternoon during the Kiwanis Club football coaches luncheon, Eastside head coach Troy Hoff was asked which games on the 2019 schedule he thought his players would most likely easily get up for.
His reply: “If we’re not ready for the first one Friday night against Ola, we’re gonna be in trouble.”
Suffice to say, Eastside’s season opening trip to McDonough Friday night was nothing but trouble.
Entering the game without running back in Terrence Reid, the Eagles knew the offense was going to have to rely on other weapons to put up points. However, it was on the defensive side of the ball where the miscues quickly manifested.
It didn’t take long for Ola to put points on the board. The Mustangs quickly went 52 yards in six plays to open scoring while taking a 6-0 lead.
However, the Eagles would answer fairly quickly when quarterback Noah Cook found Jeffrey Haynes for a 44-yard touchdown, taking the lead 7-6.
Both teams would trade scores again as Ola went 80 yards on 12 plays, finishing off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass.
But Haynes wouldn’t let his team fall behind early as he took the ensuing kickoff 96-yards to push Eastside back out in front by a point once again.
After that score, the rails began to fall off quickly.
After Ola responded with another touchdown, the Eagles failed to convert on a 3rd-and-2, and two Mustang possessions later, Eastside found itself down 34-14 at the half.
After a second receiving touchdown from Haynes — this time on a drive that was aided by a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cook — the Eagles would not see the end-zone again for the remainder of the game.
As the Eagles came out of the halftime locker room, Cook did not step onto the field with them, nor did he enter the game for the rest of the contest as the helmet-to-helmet hit put him in concussion protocol.
The third and fourth quarters saw a rotation of young guys coming into the lineups, especially at running back, as Kenai Grier and freshman Johnny Salter each saw reps at the running back position.
And the second half was the Hunter Kautz show as Ola’s senior quarterback continued to be a problem for the Eagles defense which struggled mightily to get off the field on third down all night.
A lot of quarterback keepers resulted in four scores on the ground for Kautz, not to mention the three he had in the air. No matter what the Eagles did, he continued to find ways to get past them.
As the clock wound down to zero, the Eagles left the Mustangs field with a 58-21 defeat which was record-setting in all the wrong ways.
It is their first season-opening loss since former coach Rick Hurst’s first season back in 2005. It’s the Eagles’ first regular-season loss since the 28-21 setback at Woodward Academy in October 2017.
It is also the most points a team has scored on Eastside since 2012 when Chestatee scored 57, and the second-most ever allowed by an Eastside Eagles team.
But the Eagles don’t have much time to hang their heads.
Next week, they play against in-county rival Newton Rams who are fresh off an impressive 45-0 win against Alcovy Friday night. The Rams (1-0) will be looking to avenge last season’s 27-20 loss against Eastside.