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Eastside in region showdown

COVINGTON — Eastside’s playoff future lies in its own hands against Henry County as the two go at each other tonight at 7:30 at Henry County High School.

A win would give the Eagles (5-4 overall, 4-3 in Region 4-AAA) a guaranteed No. 4 spot in Region 4-AAA. A loss and they miss the playoffs for the first time in four years.

“It’s for all the marbles, as far as a playoff spot,” said Eastside head coach Rick Hurst. “In the last three years, we pretty much had it locked up going into the last game. This is new territory for us. Last year we beat them (Henry County) and took the second spot.”

With the postseason on the line, the Eagles had a good week of practice, according to Hurst. The coaches worked with newly placed starting quarterback Demario Terrell, who did well passing the ball last week in his first week in the backfield, where he was 10-for-15 with three touchdowns for 172 yards. His problem was handing the ball off — the ball fell to the ground five times on the exchange.

“He was thinking of one thing and our running backs were doing something else. I told him we had to make sure we protect the football and he’s been doing a good job this week in making sure the ball was in the right spot,” said Hurst.

When Henry County (5-4, 5-2) has the ball, the biggest challenge for the Eastside defense is doing something few teams have been able to do — stop quarterback Chris Moody.

Moody has rushed for 677 yards and six touchdowns on 97 touches while throwing for 1,027 yards. Out of the 138 attempts, Moody has completed 80 passes, including seven for touchdowns, while being intercepted once.

“The quarterback is probably one of the best athletes in the region. He has a heck of an arm, but what really scares me the most are his legs. He makes things happen,” Hurst said. “The thing is that we have to reel him in, try to get a sack and hope he doesn’t break it out for a gain of 20-25 yards. That’s what we have to alleviate. We have to have someone on him the whole time.”

A job like this usually falls on Sheldon Rankins. However, with Rankins out of action, it could fall on his replacement, Marquise Heard.

“They know what’s on the line and we talked about it. We had a good week of practice, the execution has been there and Demario gets better with the offense. We have to go out and execute. They’re a good football team; they have a lot of athletes. We have our work cut out for us. But if we make the plays we’re capable of, I think it’ll be a good chance of getting in,” said Hurst.

“It’s a good spot to be in, but I wish we already had it locked up. It just makes it better for going into the playoffs if we’re lucky enough to get it, because it’s like we played a playoff game a week early.”