COVINGTON - The worst possible thing Eastside could do is to look past Franklin County, who has as much on the line tonight as the Eagles.
If Eastside wins, the Eagles win the Region 8-AAA championship and will host a first-round state playoff game next week.
If Franklin County wins, the Lions will keep their playoff hopes alive and will take Eastside out of the running for the region title.
One thing Eastside coach Rick Hurst is happy about is his team is not reacting to the pressure of trying to win the school's first football region championship.
"They've had a great attitude in practice with great tempo and they've been on their game. If they are feeling pressure, they're not showing it," he said. "They've got to keep it in perspective, and that's what we've preached all week. If they'd experienced it before, then to be at the door step they might feel a little bit of pressure, but I don't see it."
Unlike their last three games, which were in hand by halftime, Hurst feels that his team will have to play hard for the entire 48 minutes.
"This is going to be a hard football game for us to win if our kids don't play hard all four quarters. It would really surprise me if we come out and just took it right to them," Hurst said. "I think we can, we have the capability to score from anywhere. I think we have to continue to be consistent on offense. If we can do that all four quarters, which I think is what it's going to take, hopefully we can come out on top."
Offensively, the Lions are primarily a running team throwing only 35 percent of time.
"They don't have a complicated offense, but what they do, they do well. They're just the opposite, they run between the tackles. Very little of their game goes outside. So we really have to protect against the run," Hurst said.
When Eastside runs the ball, James Johnson, who was named Lineman of the Week by the Atlanta Touchdown Club, and the rest of the offensive line will have to be sure to give the backfield ample time to find their lanes.
"They're very athletic. Maybe not at all positions, as we are, but in the last three weeks, they're definitely the most athletic team we've played. They're probably as athletic as Hart," Hurst said.
"They have some good players in key positions, so we have to be sure that we're where we need to be and do our job defensively. Offensively, we've got to make sure we get to their linebackers and get a block."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: Franklin County at Eastside
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Homer Sharp Stadium
Last meeting: Eastside won 48-13 in 2001
Series: Tied 2-2