COVINGTON - Eastside's football team did the easy part of securing a coveted playoff spot for Region 8-AAA with its 44-0 win over Oconee County last week. Now comes the hard part of staying focused on this week's game against Morgan County without looking forward to next week's game and a possible perfect 7-0 record in region play.
Even with Morgan County's 1-7 record, 1-4 in region play, Eagles coach Rick Hurst knows his team still has to take care of business on the field.
"Anytime you play the game, anybody can beat anybody on a Friday night," he said. "We're mindful of that trying to stay focused. The kids have done a good job this week."
To bring that fact home Hurst can remind his team of last week when Jackson County, a team that Eastside crushed 48-0, almost beat Elbert County before falling one point short in its 28-27 contest.
"They've struggled, and coach (Bill) Malone has done a good job. They're well-coached," Hurst said. "I know they're going to do everything they can to come out and play hard against us. They're not going to lay down. We're going to have to jump on them early."
Jumping on teams early and getting them out of their game plan is something that have been successful for the Eagles over the past three games, as they've outscored their opponents 140-20 with two shutouts in the last two games.
In order to provide the same results against the Bulldogs, Eastside's defense will have to continue to play solid defense. Despite its record, Morgan County still has the ability to surprise an unsuspecting opponent.
"They play the option a little bit, which gives me some concern because their quarterback (J.D. Hawkins) can run," Hurst said. "They do a pretty decent job with it so we're going to have to make sure that we play gap responsibility defense and take care of who we're suppose to get to on the option."
Besides the potential of becoming repeat region champions with an Eastside win and a win by Hart County over Franklin County, today's game is also big for the seniors as they play their last regular season game at home.
They have seen a lot from their first spring practice as rising freshman when the Eagles went 0-10 to making it to the quarterfinals in Class AAA last season.
"I've had the good fortune of seeing most of these guys grow up. It's been a pleasure for me and we have some great, supportive parents in this senior class," Hurst said. "They're good kids who have worked hard. The biggest thing I can say about this group is that they didn't get down. A lot of leadership is shown in the last five or six weeks because of how we've turned around. We wouldn't be where we are right now if they hadn't have done that."
SideBar: At a glance
· Who: Morgan County Bulldogs (1-7, 1-4) at Eastside Eagles (6-2, 5-0)
· Where: Homer Sharp Stadium
· When: 7:30 p.m. today
· Last week: Morgan County lost to Hart County 43-16; Eastside beat Oconee County 44-0
· Series: Morgan County leads 1-2
· Last season: Eastside won 35-7