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Rankins to miss rest of season with broken leg
Eagles to turn to sophomore Demario Terrell to spark offense
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What was supposed to be a quiet bye week for eastside turned out to be anything but. It’s been a tough season for the Eagles and after last week, it got even tougher.

All-State defensive end Sheldon Rankins suffered a hairline fracture to his right leg during practice last week and the Eagles found out Thursday their senior defensive leader will miss the remainder of the season.

"I was really starting to come in my own and making a lot of plays so it’s a setback in the road," Rankins said. "It’s not a very serious injury though. I know my team is going to do what it has to do to get wins and I’ll be next year playing college ball."

Rankins earned First Team, All-Class AAA defense and All-Region 4-AAA as a junior when he led the Eagles with 14 sacks and 15 tackles for a loss and was on par to put up similar numbers this year. He leads the team in sacks with eight and had interceptions in each the last two games.

Rankins being recruited heavily by several major Division 1 schools including Auburn, Louisville,

"It hurts knowing I won’t be able to help the team or play with these guys anymore more than anything," he said.

Rankins is the second high-profile Eastside player to go down with a season-ending injury. Starting running back Alex Smith was lost on the Eagles’ first play of the year against Alcovy in week one and now Eastside will be without its best defensive player for the final two games.

"It’s a tough loss but we’ve dealt with these things all year long and it’s just another thing we’ll have to deal with," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "You don’t replace somebody like Sheldon. You just don’t. But I think our kids understand that and I think our kids will respond."

While the offense has suffered without Smith, Rankins’ loss will be particularly difficult to overcome and it couldn’t come at a worse time. With the Eagles needing to win their final two games just to make the playoffs, the Eagles could ill-afford another setback.

Eastside’s defense hasn’t been the same since senior safety Lance Davis was dismissed for discipline reasons last month. Over the past three games — all losses, the Eagles have given up four scoring plays of 50 yards or more. But the defensive line had remained the strength of the team. Now, with Rankins out, the Eagles will be forced to change their gameplan.

"It’s tough. Shaq (Huff) becomes a bigger part of what we do but T (Antonius Sims) has played extremely well all year as has Marquise Heard and he’ll come in a fill the void," Hurst said. "We may dial up a little more pressure as far as bringing folks because we may not get that same type of pass rush that we’ve been getting with three. We may have to bring a linebacker up and force a running back to pick him up so I think we can still get pressure on people."


Demario Terrell to make first start

Sophomore quarterback Demario Terrell will make his first start Friday when Eastside takes on Eagles Landing at home on senior night.

Terrell will replace Cameron Boyd in an attempt to spark an offense that has struggled to find consistency. The Eagles are averaging 11 points per game over their past three and 17 points per game on the season. They failed to score a touchdown in their last game and have been shutout of the end zone twice on the year.

"That was my decision and felt like that was something I had to do as a team," Hurst said. "As a team we just weren’t getting it done and our kids have to find some way to respond to Demario and I think they already have."

Boyd was replaced by Terrell in the fourth quarter against Stockbridge after throwing a costly interception that was returned for a touchdown. It was his second straight game throwing an interception that went the other way for a touchdown. He has three touchdown passes versus six picks on the year.

Hurst was quick to point out Eastside's struggles aren't solely on Boyd. But he hopes the change will reenergize an offense stuck in neutral. The Eagles finish with Eagles Landing and Henry County. They scored 58 points against Eagles Landing a year ago.

"A lot of the kids have picked up the tempo a little bit and that’s what you look for when you make this type of change," Hurst said. "Take nothing away from Cameron. Everything that’s happened is not his fault and I told him that. This has to do with us being 4-4, losing three in a row and trying to get a spark."

Nebraska and Stanford and doesn’t expect the injury, which could be fully healed in as few as six weeks, to affect his future.