Eastside Postgame with Coach Troy HoffEastside head football coach Troy Hoff discusses his team's preseason scrimmage with Walnut Grove with sports editor Gabriel Stovall.
WALNUT GROVE, Ga. — The Eastside Eagles “lost” its preseason scrimmage to Walnut Grove 14-13 Friday night in fairly dramatic fashion when the Warriors punched in a last minute touchdown from the one-yard line and held off one last scoring drive attempt from Eastside.
Here’s the kicker, though: By this time it was pretty much junior varsity squad against junior varsity squad. When it was ones vs. ones, Eastside showed some dominant flashes, taking a 10-0 lead at halftime thanks to a 27-yard field goal from Kade Mote and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Noah Cook to Colby Shivers.
In the second half, Walnut Grove opened with a methodical 14-play, 70-yard scoring drive that took over seven minutes off the third quarter clock and ended with a 13-yard scoring scamper from Joc Pledger. By that time, both teams were employing a mixture of starters and reserves in their lineups.
In response, Eastside started its own scoring march that resembled more of its typical run-heavy offensive style. Seven of nine plays in that Eagles’ drive were run plays, and it was capped off with another showing of Mote’s monster leg as the senior kicker booted a 48-yard field goal to give Eastside a 13-7 advantage at the 1:22 mark of the third quarter.
A few other observations from Friday’s game:
- If there were a game ball to pass out, it would go to tight end Colby Shivers. Shivers snagged four balls for 52 yards and accounted for the only Eagles touchdown of the night. He was a comfortable safety valve as a receiver for quarterback Noah Cook.
- Speaking of Cook, it was a mixed bag performance for the junior who finished 9-of-18 passing with 94 yards and the scoring strike to Shivers. There were moments when Cook was sharp on reads and throws. Then there were times when bad timing caused him to miss a couple of open receivers. He also tossed a pick late in the second quarter.
- Senior running back Jordan Rogers didn’t have a ton of yards or big stats Friday, but he just looked more physical and sure of himself running the football. He’s always passed the eye test, but if he continues to show what he showed in spots Friday night, it lets Eastside literally go four deep in its running back rotation.
- Hunter Williams, Jaylen Atlow and Jaden Blackwell were super disruptive during their abbreviated time in the game. Williams had three tackles for losses and a forced fumble in the first half. Blackwell had a pair of TFLs and a fumble recovery while Atlow took down the Warriors QB and applied constant pressure.
- The young guns, particularly on offense, had some impressive moments. Backup quarterback Jaylen Woods, a sophomore, showed off a rocket arm and elusiveness. And freshman running back Ramon Hernandez broke several big runs, and almost broke free for a game-winning touchdown pass from Woods on the last play of the game.
Check out the above video to hear coach Troy Hoff’s comments takes on his team’s performance.