COVINGTON — Eastside's football team is going to look a little bit different after its bye week as it gets ready to play Eagles Landing tonight at 7:30 at Homer Sharp Stadium in a must-win game if the Eagles want to make it to the Class AAA playoffs as the No. 4 seed from Region 4-AAA.
After missing Eastside's first eight games, kicker/linebacker Cody Sandler is back and ready to make up for lost time.
That's a good thing for Eastside head coach Rick Hurst, considering that he lost one of his defensive leaders in Sheldon Rankins for the remainder of the season with a hairline fracture in his leg. In his eight games, Rankins had 38 tackles, eight for loss, plus he forced and recovered two fumbles and he had two interceptions.
Eastside is in a three-game losing streak and is ready to break it. Although it appears that it may be an easy thing to do against the 1-7 Eagles Landing team, Hurst is not so sure about putting the mark in the win column before the game is played.
Even though the margin of loss has been by two touchdowns, Hurst knows that Eagle Landing's games have been close for a while.
"They've been blown out but they started out doing well in games. They're at a point where they're frustrated; you can see it on film. The key to games like this is to get up early. They're not a real bad football team," he said.
"It's not going to be an easy task for us, but I like our game plan and how we match up. All we have to do is execute. If we execute I'm pretty sure what the outcome will be. I think we have a little bit more team speed but not a whole lot. That's in our favor a lot of times. I think it's a matter that we've won and our kids know how to win."
During the off week, Hurst got his players back to the basics by drilling fundamentals. He also gave them the three days of fall break off — a move which was good for his players and coaches.
"They came back Monday really rejuvenated and very upbeat. It was like it was at the beginning of the year," Hurst said.
The other change that Eastside saw during its bye week was at quarterback with sophomore Demario Terrell now taking the snaps. Terrell started working with the No. 1 offense for the past two weeks and will be leading the offense this week. The main reason for Terrell replacing Cameron Boyd is that hopefully the change will spark Eastside into turning things around as it tries to get on a win streak.
"It's like I told Cameron, it's not all his fault. Our three-game losing streak has very little to with him. He contributed and I told him that," Hurst said. "Anytime you make a change it might spark the team. I think it has and it's given our offense a fresh (feel). Demario is a little bit better runner. I told Cameron he's one play away from getting back in. But right now we're going with Demario and see where it takes us."
Besides a win, Hurst is also hoping to get a big crowd for the game. Not only does the team play better, feeding off the energy of the crowd, it's also senior night.
"These guys have given this county something to cheer about in the last three years. I know that they want to go out a winner and play their last home game at Sharp," Hurst said. "We want to send them off well and have a good crowd to wish them well."