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Eastside shouldn't overlook struggling Walnut Grove

IF YOU GO

• Who: Walnut Grove Warriors (1-6, 0-4) at Eastside Eagles (5-2, 3-1)

• When: 7:30 p.m. today

• Where: Homer Sharp Stadium, Covington

• Last week: Walnut Grove lost 49-6 to Monroe Area, Eastside beat Lumpkin County 52-16

• Series: First meeting

COVINGTON -- After losing to Chestatee 56-57 in double overtime to start Region 8-AAAA play, Eastside has taken care of business one game at a time to go 3-1 in the region. However, it cannot afford to look past a weak Walnut Grove team when the two clash at 7:30 p.m. today at Homer Sharp Stadium for homecoming.

"If you look in the paper Saturday or Sunday you see that somebody can beat anybody on any given day. We're not trying to focus on that," Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. "It's nothing on them. Obviously, they have a few good players, but they're struggling."

With Stephens County and Monroe Area coming up for the Eagles (5-2, 3-1) it would be relatively easy for the players to look past this game giving the Warriors (1-6, 0-4) a chance catch Eastside off its game. But this game has a lot of meaning.

"A win and we're in then we'll talk about what can happen next," Hurst said. "That's what we've stressed since last Friday. I told them 'Let's win and then we'll worry about the next one.' I haven't told them scenarios or anything."

The Eagles won their last three games with a combination of good defense and a balanced offense. Leading Eastside's offensive running attack is Alex Smith, who ran for 157 yards on 14 carries, including three touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 45 yards with a touchdown.

"He's our spark plug. It's important for us that he touches the ball as much as possible," Hurst said. "Everybody has to worry about where he is, so we've lined him up in several different spots in the last few games. We're going to continue to do that."

While Smith has been the catalyst in Eastside's offense, Carlos Huggins has been the player taking some of the focus away from Smith. Last week against Lumpkin County, Huggins rushed for 106 yards while running for one touchdown and on the receiving end of another. If Walnut Grove tries to overcrowd the box trying to shut down Eastside's running game, Eagles quarterback Damario Terrell has the arm and the weapons to hurt them. Terrell, who was 6 of 17 for 136 yards and three touchdowns last week, has completed 73 percent of his passes for 904 yards and nine touchdowns.

"You can shut down one but it's hard to shut down four or five. That's the goal, to continue for him to do well in order to free up some other folks down the road," Hurst said. "The thing about it is that if more people focus on him (Smith), it allows some other folks to have a good night."