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Play in the trenches a focus for Eagles
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Coming off a bye week, the Eastside varsity football team looks to earn its second region win of the season tonight on the road against Lanier.

The Eagles take on the Longhorns at 7:30 p.m. in Sugar Hill, Ga., entering the contest with a 3-2 overall record and a 1-1 mark in region play.

Two weeks ago, the Eagles defeated the Red Raiders of Madison County 31-14 in their third consecutive home game, but Eastside coach Rick Hurst knows he will need a great effort from his team to earn its second win of the season away from Sharp Stadium.

"Practice was very sharp this week, and we had very crisp execution on both sides of the ball," Hurst said. "The guys are used to having fall break. They go through it every year and the last two years we have had a game on fall break. They've been fine and responded well in practice."

The Eagles enter their first full game without starting quarterback Demario Terrell, who suffered an injury against Madison County that could leave him out of the lineup for up to four weeks.

Freshman quarterback Austin Holloway, who closed the game against the Red Raiders after Terrell left with the injury, will get his first start with the Eagles.

"He's done some good things," Hurst said. "He's thrown the deep ball surprisingly well and he's making good reads in practice.

"He is going to make some mistakes, but we just have to limit them and capitalize on it if they (Lanier) make a mistake," he said.

Lanier enters the contest with a 4-1 overall record, with its only loss coming last week, falling 56-28 to Monroe Area.

Before the loss against the Purple Hurricanes, the Longhorns tallied wins over Apalachee, Oconee County, Franklin County and Madison County, defeating the Red Raiders 34-8 in their first region game of the season.

The Longhorns averaged just fewer than 32 points per game in their four wins, and Hurst believes his defensive line will be a key factor in trying to stop the Longhorns' offense.

"Lanier is just a solid team," Hurst said. "They run and pass the ball effectively. They are balanced and have done a good job of showing different formations and looks.

"They're also a really big team," he said. "They're big up front. It's something we faced before against Chestatee. We showed in that game that we can hold our own against big teams, but we can do better. This week it has to be for a full 48 minutes."

Hurst said his front seven on defense will have a big responsibility in stopping the Longhorns balanced offensive attack.

"The defensive guys up front are going to have to play well," he said. "There is no doubt about that. It is on those guys this week."

Winning the line of scrimmage has been a priority for the Eagles heading into the game against Lanier, but the Eagles will need more than a stout defensive effort to topple the Longhorns. Eastside has scored a combined 64 points in their last three games after opening the season with 83 combined points against Newton and Jackson.

"We have to control the line of scrimmage," Hurst said. "We have a great chance to win if we do that. We're putting it on our guys in the trenches this week and we hope they can stand up to the challenge."

Eastside defeated the Longhorns 20-14 at home last season in the two programs' lone meeting.