COVINGTON - With three returning starters and a new classification and region, Eastside's boys soccer team has a new attitude as it moves forward.
"This is my first year as head coach, but I have tried to make the players more focused and serious about the season," Eastside coach Trent Weiser said. "Our goals for the team are fairly simple - work hard, work together and give everything you got."
Even though this is Weiser's first year guiding the boys team, he knows what they are capable of doing after being an assistant coach last season.
"Finishing on goal was a problem last year and might be again this year," Weiser said. "Only time will tell what our strengths and weaknesses are."
While the Eagles are able to get away from the Rockdale schools, it does not mean that they are going into an easier region.
Oconee County dominated Region 8-AAA last season and is scheduled to do so again this season, starting the season ranked No. 9 in Class AAA.
Aside from Oconee County, who was 5-0 in region play last year, Stephens County and Franklin County were 3-2 and 2-3.
"It will get us away from the Rockdale County schools, who are always talented. However, the new region looks pretty balanced and should offer some good competition," Weiser said. "Oconee County did very well last year and should be a tough team."
Hoping to take the team to the state playoffs are returning players Yanrick Tinker, Greg Morrell and Josh Knepper and first-year varsity players Caleb Kernan, Will McQuaig and Tyler Edmiston.
"They all have great field vision and can make good decisions. Caleb is a large body that is very talented, so I expect him to step up on offense," Weiser said. "Also, Yanrick Tinker is very good with the ball. So with these two working together, we should be able to create some good opportunities."
Weiser is also going to have a new look on the defensive side of the ball as well.
McQuaig and Edmiston will be the midfielders with Knepper playing center back.
If everything works as planned, the Eagles should be able to improve on the 14 goals they scored last year while limiting opposing teams to less than the 52 goals they allowed.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At a glance
Team: Eastside boys soccer
Coach: Trent Weiser (first year)
Last year's record: 4-10-0
First game: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. Madison County