The Eastside Eagles are riding high after two straight victories, with their most recent coming in an impressive 39-2 win over region opponent the North Clayton Eagles.
Taking a look at the scoreline of this game might make it easy to assume that Eastside has found their groove and improves may be hard to find. Unsurprisingly that is not the case for Eagles head coach Troy Hoff.
When I asked Hoff if it's hard to find mistakes in such a dominant victory, he scoffed and made it known that his team still has plenty of areas they can work to improve their game.
"There's a lot of things. It's exactly what you said we just won 39-2, but there were a lot of things that we felt like we left on the table," said Hoff. "We put ourselves in a few situations by some alignment assignment issues that you may not see in the flow of the game, but they hurt us."
Hoff mentioned that some of the missed assignments on the offensive side of the ball, and he felt there were certain situations that his team could have had better gap integrity. He believes that if they had better gap integrity, then they could have prevented some of the big-chunk plays.
"We gave up some big plays, whether it be simple adjustments that need to be and have been addressed or stuff we need to be consistently doing," said Hoff. "We can't play with ten guys doing it right and one guy doing it wrong or nine right and two wrong, that never adds up to a successful play."
Hoff continued to stress the importance of his team, maintaining excellent gap integrity and being consistent on the defensive side of the ball. He went into detail of how the team is addressing those issues during the bye week.
"We've done a little bit of both. A little bit of individual time working on some fundamental football, and we've done some small group stuff not necessarily working as a full team but some different groups working together," said Hoff. "Less of an emphasis on full team interaction with breaking it down in little pieces, Monday we'll come back together and have a normal full week."
Hoff elaborated more and said that it had been a normal week in practice, but there has been less of a focus on the team emphasizing full 11-on-11 work.
The Eagles have had some up and down play from every
position group this season, so when asked what group Hoff was hoping to find
the most improvement from the bye week; his answer was not a huge surprise.
"I don't know if there is one group I can point to specifically. I think we're looking across the board, to be honest with you," said Hoff. "We have had spells where we have had really good production. If you look at grade outs and film and we've had high levels of play from every position group. It's a consistency thing."
Consistency is the key to success, and Hoff is hoping to find that high level of play on a consistent basis from every member of his team. However, there is one group in particular that Hoff has very high expectations for this season.
"I think we expect a lot of our offensive line because four of them played last year, so if I'm pointing at one group to continue to move forward and lead us," said Hoff. "If we can't pass pro, we can't throw, and obviously if we can't run block, it doesn't matter how good our running backs are. So I think we're going to keep challenging that group."
Mentioning some of the outstanding talent in the Eagles backfield, running back and former player of the week Terrence Reid is still questionable, and Hoff said his injury is being dealt with week-to-week.
The Eagles top target and senior Colby Shivers had surgery on his ACL this week, and Hoff mentioned that he and Shivers had exchanged texts and everything seemed to have went well with the surgery.
Shivers was spotted on crutches at the Eastside Eagles senior night softball game on Thursday, and he seemed to be in good spirits that evening.
The Eagles senior JT Booth also had surgery on his ACL the same day as Shivers, and everything seems to have gone well for him as well. Losing seniors to season-ending injuries is always tough to deal with, but it does have to be good to hear that both surgeries went well, and these seniors are on the road to recovery.
Shivers was one of quarterback Noah Cook's favorite targets and filling the void left by him has been a tough scene for this Eagles offense. Jeff Haynes, who seems to be able to play every position on the team, has shown off his playmaking ability, but Hoff is looking for more guys to step up.
Cook was at his best last game against North Clayton in which he went 20 for 26 with 225 passing yards and one touchdown. Jeff Haynes accounted for 76 of the 225 yards and the touchdown, so the other 149 yards came from other members of the receiving corps.
Hoff highlighted one player that stepped up in that game and hopes he and others continue to step up and build a bond with Cook through the passing attack.
"Gio Macek stepped up and had really big game for us at receiver and caught some critical balls at critical times," said Hoff. "He's developing some trust and relationships of how those guys run routes and those guys understanding where they need to be for the ball to be delivered."
The Eagles have been hard at work in multiple areas, but the overarching theme is that Hoff wants consistency from his team. He will hope to find that steady play next week against the Luella Lions(1-3,1-1).
Hoff said he expects a challenge from the Lions and they have already started to slowly creep into how they might want to gameplan for them. They will take a deeper dive into that gameplan next week, but if the Eagles have consistently good play across the board, it should be another mark in the win column for them.