COVINGTON -- Now that the battle for the county championship is over , it is time for Eastside to get ready for the games that really do count when it comes to making the Class AAA playoffs.
The Eagles (1-1) will start their Region 4-AAA against Locust Grove (0-2) on the road Friday with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff time.
Eastside went 1-1 against their county rivals beating Alcovy 38-15 but losing to Newton 10-3.
"The kids already put the loss behind them. They know what's in store now is much bigger and better for us. I think they're ready to get into region play," Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said.
If the Eagles are to start region play with a win, they will have to do it with a disciplined defense as the Wildcats run an option-style offense.
When the two met last year, a meeting which Eastside won 26-7, the Eagles had a difficult time stopping Locust Grove. It wasn't until the Eagles got to the locker room and made adjustments before they put a stop to the Wildcats. However, now the Eagles know what they have to do.
One thing that Eastside will have that they didn't have last year was Shaquille Huff on the defensive line.
"Shaquille didn't play last year and that was a big thing for us in the middle. I'm hoping that he will provide that spark there and he'll be able to take on that fullback in the hole," Hurst said.
"We have to stop their fullback and we have to stop their quarterback. If we don't we're going to struggle. Any time you face the option when you don't play it all the time you have to be really disciplined and stay in your gaps. You have to trust the guys that are out there with you to do their job. It's important that you play assignment football."
While Eastside's defense is playing well already registering two interceptions, four fumbles and a defensive touchdown by Marcus Griffieth, the Eagles are going to have to play at the same level of offense.
"It's not just our level (high school).The offense takes a little bit more time than the defense does. Our defense is complicated but it's not as much as what we do offensively," Hurst said. "It takes more time and more gelling from the 11 guys that are out there."
Making the Eastside offense come together did become a little harder with the injury of running back Alex Smith even though Chavis Griggs is still running hard.
Trying to replace the injured running back are sophomore Jamondi Smith and freshman Nick Broadwater. While Broadwater had a bit of a backslide last week, Smith had a relatively good game against Newton last week averaging four yards a carry.
"I thought Jamondi was a step away last week from breaking several a long distance (against Newton). But it was his first game back and his timing was a little off. He's still not trusting the hole that's going to be there," Hurst said. "Nick had a good week in practice. Both of them have to understand how to prepare for a game. A lot of ninth graders come in and think they could get to the outside every time. But they have to hit the hole, block, catch the football and sometimes that's hard for the younger guys to understand."