COVINGTON - Last week's 24-7 loss to Hart County was a fluke - at least that's what Eastside (5-1 overall, 2-1 Region 8-AAA) will try to prove when Jackson County visits Homer Sharp Stadium tonight.
"Well, I just felt like our kids mentally weren't ready, and for some reason that's partly my fault," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "Our kids just weren't mentally ready to play, and that falls back on me. I took the credit for it, and I'm going to do everything I can not to let it happen again."
And despite the Panthers (1-4-1, 0-3) seeking their first region win of the year, the Eagles should be ready to stop them in their tracks. Eastside is tied for first in the region, while Jackson County is last.
"We had good tempo Monday (in practice)," Hurst said. "Attitudes have been good and execution has been good. Hopefully, it was just a bad game and the guys will rally and come back (tonight) and try to get back to playing Eastside football."
But it starts with Eastside's line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
"That's where we got beat last week," Hurst said. "There's no doubt about it - our offensive line (and) our defensive line did not play well. In order for us to win (tonight) and have a chance at this thing, we've got to continue to get better up there where it counts."
On paper, Eastside clearly has the upper hand. In six games, the Eagles have scored a whopping 158 points (26.3 average) compared to the Panthers' 48 (8.0 average).
One player making his presence known for Eastside is defensive back/wide receiver Antarius Terrell.
"Antarius has really played well all year," Hurst said. "He really played well last week against Hart. He was probably our one shining star last week on both sides of the ball. He's been very consistent."
Defensively, Eastside also outranks Jackson County, allowing 15.5 points per game compared to 21.2.
"The last experience I had with Jackson County was up there my first year at Eastside, and we got beat," Hurst recalled. "So I'll never, ever take them lightly - I didn't take them lightly that year. But they play very hard. They're a hard-nosed group of kids and they're not going to come in here intimidated at all. If we don't play, it will be a dogfight, and hopefully it won't come down to that."
If Eastside had to lose a game this season, the loss to Hart County could not have come at a better time.
"I think it opened up some of our players' eyes that we were beatable," Hurst said. "I felt like it was a lack of effort in a couple of areas, not on every play, but I think a couple of our players took some plays off and that can't happen. We're going to be evaluating them very closely (tonight) and watching what's going on, and if that's the case then we're going to make some changes - changes that will be made for the entire season."
Jason Murdock can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: If You Go
Who: Jackson County at Eastside
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Homer Sharp Stadium
Series: Eastside leads 4-2
Last meeting: Jackson County won 20-13 in 2005