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Eagles' secondary faces test against pass-happy Warriors

COVINGTON - Eastside's secondary will be tested tonight when it faces Oconee County and quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

The Eagles (6-1 overall, 3-1 in 8-AAA) square off with the Warriors (2-5 overall, 2-2 in 8-AAA) today at 7 p.m. in Homer Sharp Stadium.

"If you get an offer from Georgia, you have to be pretty good. He's got a great arm and it seems like he makes some pretty good decisions," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said of Mettenberger. "We're going to have to do a good job of mixing things up and try to confuse him as much as possible."

A key to stopping Mettenberger is forcing him to hold onto the ball long enough to allow Eastside's pass rush to be effective. However, the Eagles cannot afford to give Mettenberger too much, which will allow his receivers to get open.

"If we can make him hold it for 31/2 seconds, our defensive line, linebackers and possibly secondary guys will be able to get to him," Hurst said. "I think that Karl (Williams), James (Johnson) and Jacorey (Maddox) and the guys we have up front enjoy this type of game. They'll be able to pin their ears back and get after him."

When Mettenberger throws the ball, which he does 65 percent of the time, his primary target is Burnie Pritchard. But that does not mean the Eagles can overlook Hutch Roper or Isaac Givens.

When the Warriors run the ball, they make it simple with handoffs out of the shotgun.

"They're running game is pretty simple. They don't do anything complicated," Hurst said.

For the past seven weeks, the Eagles have been battling injuries, but that will not be the case against Oconee County.

"We're finally at 100 percent. This is the first time we've been at 100 percent since the Heritage scrimmage," Hurst said. "Hopefully, that will help us get over this three-game stretch."

With a full slate of running backs, including Greg Griffith, and linemen back in the mix, the Eagles are going to have to be sure that they are all on the same page on their blocking assignments.

"I worry about their front four. They have two big tackles that are huge and they just dwarf us," Hurst said. "If we don't do a good job of blocking at angles, they could cause some problems."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: Oconee County at Eastside

· When: Today, 7 p.m.

· Where: Homer Sharp Stadium

· Series: Tied 1-1