Eastside’s 42-17 season opening win against Ola gave sportswriter Tyler Williams the opportunity to sound off on the things he learned about Eastside in its first regular season test.
1. The passing game looks to be the dominant force on offense. Unlike last season in which the Eagles were more dominant on the ground, Eastside looked sharp as ever against the Mustangs through the air. On the first drive, quarterback Noah Cook `went 3-for-3 for 73 yards and a touchdown to Jamari Brown. His arm looked much stronger, and he looked more comfortable in the pocket than last season. He would finish the game with 255 yards passing, completing 22 of 28 passes with two touchdowns. Although he had an interception, it was due to a fortuitous play by a defender who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. If this aggressive passing attack continues, the Eagles’ offense will be deadly once again, but in a different way.
2. The kicking game needs work. It is unusual for Kade Mote to miss a field goal in a game, but in the first half alone, he missed three. Whether it was first game jitters, or the turf field he is not accustomed to, it was a long night for the senior kicker. However, I wouldn’t expect it to be a continual trend as he still figures to be one of Eastside’s biggest scoring threats.
3. An extended halftime is what the Eagles needed. Down 10-7 at the half, the Eagles were looking at falling victim to a potential upset at the hands of the Mustangs. Entering halftime, a lightning delay extended the break by several minutes. Those minutes seemed to be what the Eagles needed to get back on track as they outscored the Mustangs 35-7 in the second half with dominant play on all sides of the ball.
4. We know about Cook’s arm, but what about his legs? We know about his tremendous stats through the air, but his rushing numbers were just as impressive, given he’s not exactly he known for making plays with his feet.. He finished with 93 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns on the ground. His ability to read defenses in the run-pass option plays were key in his incredible rushing performance. If he is able to continue being even a minimal threat to tuck and run, the Eagles will have added another major weapon into their offense that most teams aren’t prepared to stop.
5. A tall task awaits next week. The Eagles will head back home to Sharp Stadium where they will face the only team that was able to shut them out last year in the Newton Rams. Although both teams are different from last season in several ways, Newton is still considered one of the elite football programs in the area, and after they took care of business against the Alcovy Tigers in impressive form, a win for them would mean a Newton Cup win and county dominance, while an Eastside victory would help the Eagles keep their hopes of county supremacy alive. I expect both teams to be ready for a dogfight once toe meets leather.