On Friday, October 13, the Eastside Eagles traveled to College Park to take on the Woodward Academy War Eagles. This region matchup featured two one loss teams who were undefeated in region play, with the winner taking sole possession of first place. The game was like a boxing match as both teams traded punches on the ground, and the defenses tried not to break. The game came down to a heavily disputed fumble call that allowed Woodward to run out the clock, giving them a 28-21 victory. Though the game’s defining play raised a lot of questions, the game itself answered many more about the Eagles. After a couple of days to process, here’s our five things learned from this matchup.
- Eastside’s running attack is legit.
If you’ve followed Eastside any this year, you know how prolific its ground game has been, especially the last few weeks. So far, the Eagles have tallied up 1,889 rushing yards this season, with 906 ground game yards coming in the last three games. Coming into Friday’s game against Woodward, many wondered if the Eagles could continue their success facing a top 10 team with a formidable front seven. The Eagles certainly answered that question as they racked up 301 rushing yards yards and two scores on the ground. Tyon Davis ripped Woodward for 181 of those yards and a score on 17 carries. It appears the Eagles’ rushing offense is not a fluke.
2. Eastside’s Quarterback position is nothing to worry about.
Coming into the year, sophomore Noah Cook was slated to take the helm of the Eastside offense at quarterback. But as injuries struck, senior Brayden Harper was taken from his wide receiver position and thrown in at quarterback. Harper has played excellently, and Eastside coaches don’t see a quarterback controversy — rather, a quarterback convenience, as they have two extremely capable players at the position, and much offensive flexibility if both are able to play at the same time. Either direction the coaching staff chooses once the two are healthy, the Eastside offense will have a solid quarterback running their offense.
3. Lamarius Benson lives up to the hype.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pound senior has been a stud on the offensive line all year. The South Carolina commit has played the majority of his snaps on the offensive side of the ball, but against Woodward, Benson showed up a lot on defense. He had a solid night with (stats), but looked to be hobbling a bit on the sideline at one point. Coach Troy Hoff didn’t appear to be concerned, however. “I think Lamarius was just tired,” Hoff said. “That may be the most defensive snaps he’d seen all season. He gave a heck of an effort out there.”
4. Eastside can certainly play with the big boys.
Eastside’s record before Friday night showed the Eagles could beat teams they’re supposed to beat, but with their sole loss being a 40-0 drubbing at the hands of Class AAAAAAA Newton, their ability to compete with “next level” teams may have been in doubt to some. Woodward came into the game ranked eighth in Class AAAA, and its program has established itself as a traditional Georgia high school football power. Despite their loss, the Eagles looked like they belonged. When the famous fumble call was made, Eastside was driving down the field, unimpeded, and potentially could have tied up the game. Hoff even hinted that if they scored, they would’ve elected to go for two and the win. Even though this goes into the record book as a loss, Eastside showed a winning fight, for sure.
5. Eastside showed, heart, resiliency, and fight.
As stated above, Eastside showed a winning fight. In a game that was highly contested, and arguably questionably officiated throughout, the Eagles never gave up. Every time they got behind, they fought back. When adversity struck, the Eagles kept their heads down, spirits up and fought. Hoff’s bunch fell in heartbreaking fashion, but have a multitude of positives to take away from this game into the future. “We still have a lot of football to play this year,” Hoff said.
The Eagles are off next week, but look to prepare for a rebound game against an athletic local area rival in Salem High on October 27.