COVINGTON -- Even though this is the fourth straight year Eastside's boys soccer team has been in the Class AAA playoffs, it's a new experience for first-year head coach and former Eagles player Champ Young.
The Eagles (10-6-2 and the No. 3 seed from Area 4-AAA), are traveling to the Augusta area to take on Area 3-AAA No. 2 seed Richmond Academy (10-8) today at 6:30 p.m.
The disadvantage that Young faces is that Richmond Academy tends to play most of its games close to home so he really doesn't know much about the Musketeers. However, the one thing that he does know is that his team better be ready.
"Everybody at this point is going to be a good team; (there) are going to be no slouches. That's a good thing for us because we want to play the better teams," Young said. "I feel like we play better against the better teams."
If Eastside is to come out ahead and meet the winner of the Central Carroll/Woodward Academy, which is ranked No. 4 in Class AAA, it cannot give Richmond Academy a chance. Despite winning 10 games this season, the Eagles only had one shutout with a 1-0 win over Rockdale. Young feels that if his squad had been sharper mentally and not let its guard down, that number could have been as high as five.
Giving the Eastside head coach hope that they will be able to keep their head in the game and make it to the second round of the playoffs is that the Eagles are coming into this game with a field full of healthy players, including Matt Edmonston.
"This is his first game since he got hurt ... That should help out tremendously," Young said.
Because the Eagles clinched their No. 3 seed with two weeks left in the season with no chance to move up to No. 2, Young was able to rest his bruised-up players, making sure that they are at the top of their game.
But just because his players are physically ready, Young realizes that sometimes a player may not be tuned in with what they are supposed to do. Unfortunately, that does not matter to him.
"If your touch is not there or you're not making good decisions, you can always play defense and be hard on a tackle," Young said. "That's what we want to be known for: That we're tough on tackles and we play hard even if our touches aren't always there.
"I feel confident that if we show up and play like we're supposed to, we have a possibility to win. Every time we show up and work hard, there's always a chance we'll beat them. That's the beauty of this game. You always have a chance if you organize in the back well, don't bunch up in the back and make mental mistakes."