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PREP FOOTBALL: Eagles see progress in summer workouts
Coach says top goal is develop young talent, increase team depth
Jay Cawthon, in his second year as Eastside’s head football coach, communicates to players during a recent summer practice. - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

COVINGTON, Ga. — All summer long, the Eastside Eagles have been hard at work going through their own summer workouts. 

Three main areas of focus have been at the forefront of head coach Jay Cawthon’s mind: Moving to the newly built Eastside High School, managing hydration in high levels of heat and blending the older and younger players. 

In relation to relocating to different facilities, Cawthon believes they have done well in their adjustments. 

“We finally got our kids in a routine at the new place,” Cawthon said. “They’ve bought in and, as always, our kids adapt well to change. They’re just out here working.” 

As far as the hydration and well-being of the kids practicing under intense weather conditions, Cawthon credited the training staff at Eastside. 

“Our trainer does a great job,” Cawthon said. “Our kids know, too, anytime they need water, they don’t get told ‘No.’ They can walk off the field. We’re in good shape and we’re working on that every day.” 

Another dynamic that has arisen for this year’s Eagles squad is the mix of players with different levels of playing experience. Cawthon even stated that there are some younger players who have never played football prior to this summer. 

But, the Eagles are leaning on the more experienced players to help “lead by example.” But there’s also been a learning curve, too, according to Cawthon. 

“I talk to our older kids every year about leading by example,” Cawthon said. “They’re showing the younger kids how to practice. Our older guys know how to practice and they want to practice. And I think our younger kids are buying in. It’s something new to them. They’re learning the tempo of a high school practice, comprehending plays, but it’s a learning process for them.” 

Cawthon recognized, though, that dynamic is nothing new for the Eagles. They’ve experienced younger and older players coexisting and learning one another before. 

And having younger players on this year’s squad will go a long way in helping Eastside accomplish its No. 1 goal this summer. 

“[Our goal is to] develop some depth on our team,” Cawthon said. “The big position [group] we’re looking at is the offensive line. So, we’re looking for some kids who can step up there. And we just want to continue to get better and better everyday. We talk about getting 1% better everyday in anything we do.”