COVINGTON - Even though it's only the third Region 8-AAA game of the season for Hart County and Eastside, tonight's game could have region championship implications.
Both teams are entering Homer Sharp Stadium with two region wins. Hart County (4-1, 2-0) has wins over Jackson County (42-7) and Stephens County (32-20) while Eastside (3-2, 2-0) has wins over Elbert County (25-7) and Stephens County (30-27).
However, Eastside coach Rick Hurst is not ready to put another region championship in the trophy case, even if they win.
"Both teams still have a lot of meat left on our schedules," he said. "We (both) still have Franklin County left to play."
Franklin County is the only other team without a region loss.
One reason Hurst is a little apprehensive about Hart County is because of its athleticism and how closely it resembles a team Eastside lost to earlier this season.
"I would compare them to Newton County as far as athletically," he said. "In some spots we're a little better. It's all going to come down to who makes the least mistakes in the worst possible times. Hopefully, we can eliminate those."
For Eastside to seek revenge for its only regular season blemish on the record last year, a 24-7 loss to Hart County, it will have to find a way to stop quarterback Landon Beck from having too much time to find his receivers.
So far this season, Hart County has scored 166 points, averaging 33 points per game. Their only loss was a 40-13 decision to Abbeville (S.C.).
If you take their loss away, the Bulldogs have given up a total of 54 points, averaging 13.4 points a game in their wins.
"Hopefully, they'll be like us last year and come here being overconfident," Hurst said.
Last week against Jackson County, Beck threw for 239 yards while running back Jermonte Hickman rushed for 86 yards and caught a Hickman pass for a 59-yard touchdown.
Offensively, Eastside has to find a way to keep the Bulldogs defense guessing with good passes by quarterback Califf Carnes, which should give Git Aiken and Greg Griffieth a chance to get the Eagles' running game in gear.
"We have to play fundamental football and execute. I think we have a great plan both offensively and defensively against them. It's just a matter of executing the plan and cutting down on costly mistakes," Hurst said. "We have to hang right in there until the very end of the football game.
"We're going to try to come out and run the football. But we feel like we can throw it when we need to to give us a chance to win. We definitely want to mix it up and stay balanced. More importantly, we have to stay out of third and long situations and stay in either second or third and manageable."
SideBar: At a glance
· Who: Hart County Bulldogs (4-) at Eastside Eagles (3-2)
· Where: Homer Sharp Stadium
· When: 7:30 p.m., today
· Last week: Hart County beat Jackson County 42-7; Eastside beat Stephens County 30-27
· Series: Hart leads 5-0
· Last season: Hart County won 24-7