COVINGTON - Eastside will have to play as solid as the Eagles ever have if they hope to beat the Carrollton Trojans in tonight's Class AAA playoff matchup.
Now that they are in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs, there's no such thing as an easy team.
While this is Eastside's fourth time in the playoffs since the school was first eligible in 1996, the Trojans have been in postseason play every year since 1988.
"It's an expected thing there," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "They expect to win. They expect to be deep in the playoffs year-in and year-out. They have a good football team."
Defensively, the Eagles are going to have to stop a very efficient Carrollton team.
When the Trojans have the ball, they do not hide their plan to run in between the tackles most of the time.
Every once in a while, they may run it outside, but that's only so they can catch the defense overpursuing so they can cut it back inside.
Carrollton has four backs who carry the ball, but the primary runners are LaBrian Hudson and Preston Brooks.
Hudson is the Trojans' leading rusher with 673 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"Offensively, there's nothing flashy. It's here we come, we're going to line it up and run it right at you. If you stop us fine, if you don't we're going to beat you," Hurst said.
"They have a big line that shadows what we saw last week. It's going to be an extreme challenge for our defense to line up toe-to-toe with them. We need to get some penetration and try to make some of those guys bounce."
To mix things up, Carrollton has two smaller backs that tend to hide and run behind their big linemen.
"They have a couple of wing backs that are not very big. They get behind the big whale-tail offensive linemen and let them get it the way. It's hard to find them," Hurst said.
Although AJ Barge can throw the ball for the Trojans - he is 48 of 85 for 803 yards and five TDs with no interceptions - Hurst does not view him as a threat against his secondary.
"They throw when they have to," Hurst said. "They have shown to get in the shotgun in certain cases and spread you out but that's not their game. If we make them do that, we win. You're going to be able to see 11 people within five yards of the football."
When they have the ball, the Eagles are going to have to find a way to keep the chains moving or score quick and often.
Other teams have moved the ball against Carrollton but the problem is they have not found the end zone too many times.
"People have moved the football and scored points on the them," Hurst said. "Not a lot of points - they're giving up about 11 points a game. We're going to have to get points when we get the football. The biggest thing is we have to be able to control the line of scrimmage. They have a bunch of defensive linemen that they just rotate."
Eastside's blockers are going to have to keep a helmet on defensive linemen Reoccus Rowe and Luke Waters. The duo has combined for 19 tackles for losses and nine sacks this season.
Carrollton's top tacklers are Rudolph Chism and Wes Dothard. Chism has 79 tackles with Dothard bringing down 54 ball handlers.
"We're going to have to be very, very balanced," Hurst said. "We can't come out and sustain the run against this team. We're going to try to establish it, but they have given up some big plays. Turnovers is going to be the key. We need to get those guys to cough it up and give our guys more chances."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: Carrollton at Eastside
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Homer Sharp Stadium
Tickets: $8; GHSA passes only
Last week: Carrollton beat Washington 23-7; Eastside beat Creekview 20-6