COVINGTON, Ga. — It was an expected fast start and a big win for the Eastside Eagles on Senior Night against Druid Hills.
Their versatility and depth was on full display in front of a packed-out home crowd, many of which clad in their hoodies and jackets as colder weather begins to move in. However, the Eagles were as hot as ever in their Thursday night 56-0 rout of Region 4-AAAA foe, Druid Hills — a win that kept Eastside (8-0, 5-0) on a quest for an undefeated regular season.
Junior quarterback, Noah Cook had a phenomenal first half wherein he went a perfect 9-for-9 passing with 132 yards and three scores to three different receivers, all of which came in a dominating first quarter where Eastside led 35-0.
“(Passing) initially I don’t think really was the plan, but everything just opened up for us really well,” Cook said. “We just made the right reads, got the ball to the receivers, and let them work.”
On the first drive of the game, it only took three plays and 27 seconds for Eastside to move 67-yards down the field on a drive capped off by a five-yard touchdown run for the opening score. After a botched snap by the Red Devils, Eastside would score again in two plays on Cook’s 14-yard pass to Jerry Mays.
Following another fumble recovery by Jaylen Atlow, Cook would throw his second touchdown of the night to Jamari Brown, giving the Eagles 21 points in just eight plays.
The rout was on from there.
Following several stalled Druid Hills drives, Eastside put up three more scores. One was Cook’s third touchdown of the night to Colby Shivers. The other two came from Rodgers, who got his second score, and freshman Dallas Johnson rumbling in for his first career touchdown.
With a blowout game like this, even on a night like senior night, head coach Troy Hoff knew the importance of getting his young guys in the game.
“We’ve got some young kids that can play,” he said. “They’ve been practicing well all year. They had a really great JV season, going 6-1, so getting them reps now is huge and getting them some confidence to play together and have some fun.”
The final two scores of the game would come from that group of young talent, the first being a Jaylen Woods quarterback keeper for a walk-in touchdown, and the second would come from former Cousins Middle star Ramon Hernandez who found the end zone for the second time in his freshman season, and first since the opening game against Ola.
For Hoff, taking care of business was pleasing, and showed him something key about his team.
“I see a team showing their maturity a little bit,” he said. “They get it. It’s not about the opponent, it’s about us and how we want to play. They took it serious all week, and we are talking about staying on a mission.”
Cook explained that mission with a little more detail.
“We’re still taking it week by week,” he said. “We are real big on just drawing a line, and crossing that line every week. Never look past anybody, because anybody can beat you. If you let your guard down, all of that work can be gone.”
“I don’t feel like you can ever be that good, because we as a team have a lot of things to improve on, so we have to get back in there next week, work hard, and prepare for the next team.”
Although they Eagles will go into their next two games against Henry County (2-5, 2-2) and Hampton (3-4, 2-2) as huge favorites, Hoff is doing everything he can to keep his team focused on that line that Cook talked about, so that they can finish the season strong.
“I think it’s just that, ‘to finish out the season,’” he said. “We’re not done yet. I know I say it every week, but we’ve got to play to our standard of football. Every week is a new challenge, and they’re going to have a target on their backs these next two weeks. We’re going to get both those teams’ best shots. They’ve got to finish what they started, and right now they’re motivated to do that.”
The Eagles will host Henry County next week in their homecoming game, which will also be their last home game of the season.