COVINGTON - Eleven Newton County football players traded Friday night lights for Saturday games on National Signing Day.
Eastside is sending eight players to the college gridiron, while Newton is sending three.
"You can see why we made it. When you have seven kids sign to major colleges, there's a reason why you go from 0-10 to 11-2. There was a lot of hard work from these guys with tremendous family support," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said.
Now that several Eagles have been noticed at the college level, Hurst is hoping that the up-and-coming players realize they, too, can make it to the next level.
"That's why we pulled the juniors out of class, to let them watch. Hopefully, we can continue this," Hurst said. "It's important for each class to see what's going on and they want to realize their dream. As long as they work hard and do what they're supposed to do, we'll do our part as coaches to make sure they get noticed."
Of the 11, only Eastside running back Broderick Alexander signed with a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) school, choosing Akron.
Going to the same schools are Newton's Demetrius McCray and Eastside's Justin Wray (Appalachian State) and Newton's Brian Ford and Quenton Pooler (Savannah State).
"One of the promises I made when I got here was that I couldn't promise them (Georgia) Tech and Miami and Georgia, but we would work as hard as could to get them somewhere," Newton coach Nick Collins said. "We have these three (Wednesday), and we have two more. We just couldn't get things ready."
Heading to Division II Presbyterian College are Eastside's Andrico Bailey and Antarius Terrell. Both former Eagles are going as wide receivers with Terrell also having the chance to play in the Blue Hose's secondary.
McCray and Wray are heading to Boone, N.C., to become Mountaineers, while Ford and Pooler will play defensive end and linebacker for the Tigers.
Eastside offensive lineman James Johnson is heading to William & Mary, while Kevin Agudo will play tight end at Furman.
Also from signing from Eastside were Hunter Parker with West Georgia and Karl Williams with Georgia State's new program.
"I'm going as D-lineman, but I'm trying to switch to linebacker. I'll do both if I have to," Williams said. "I need to get a lot bigger and work harder. I'm 228 now, I want to get to 245 and keep my speed."
What makes Williams a good fit at Georgia State is that feels comfortable there and he knows the work needed to make a program successful.
"They have a very good coaching staff, and it felt like home, I felt welcome," he said. "I went from a losing season to a winning season (at Eastside). You get both sides of football. The bad, then you have the good in the end."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.