COVINGTON — The future for Eastside football really looks good.
Unfortunately, the present may not be as bright as the Eagles senior class is one of the smallest in the eight years since head coach Rick Hurst has been at Eastside.
“I guess it’s a double edge sword. I like what I’ve seen out of the freshman class. They’re a talented bunch,” Hurst said. “There’s probably as much talent in that class since Justin Wray, James Johnson, Andrico Bailey and that bunch.”
Under normal circumstances, the Eagles have a senior class of 18-24 players. This year’s team is only made up of 12-senior players. On the other hand, their freshman class makes up 40 players. When added to the 24 sophomores, the Eagles are extremely young.
“We’re probably as young as we’ve ever been which for the future is fine, but for now it’s not. We’ll be competitive but our depth is going to be an issue,” Hurst said. “If what’s happened to us (injuries) in the past couple of years happens it’ll gut us. If we can stay healthy we’ll be competitive. If get major injuries to some key guys I’ll be filling varsity spots with possibly freshman. Now you’re looking at a tough season. I like what I’ve seen over the spring and summer and what we’ve been doing.”
The large freshman class will be represented on the field to start the season as Jaquan Henderson, brother of Eastside linebacker/running back Anthony Henderson, will be on the defensive side of the field in the secondary.
“He’s got a good knack for football and has a lot of raw skill,” Hurst said of Jaquan Henderson. “Both him and Anthony are two of the hardest workers on the football team. They never say a word, no matter how hard the drill is or how hot it is. When you put all those things together it makes sense to put him in. From day one when he came out for spring practice I knew we had something special. Since the first day of summer he was in that first group. I look for big things out of him.
“Is he going to make mistakes? Yeah. But by the time he’s a senior he’ll be one of the best ones in this area because he’s got so much God-given ability that you just don’t coach. That’s always what separates the great ones from the others.”
With senior quarterback Demario Terrell leading the Eagles offense, they will have a good experience factor in the backfield. Terrell did not have the season the Eastside coaching staff would have liked last year throwing for 1,294 yard with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. However, Hurst likes what he saw out of Terrell during spring and summer practice.
“He’s had a tremendous spring and a tremendous summer. He’s throwing the ball a lot better. He’s starting to see the big picture and what we’ve been trying to tell him,” Hurst said.
To say that senior running back Jamondi Smith had a frustrating 2012 season would be an understatement despite averaging 8.1 yards a carry. The problem with Smith last season, unbeknownst to him and the coaches,was that he was playing on a broken ankle. However, after corrective surgery, Smith and the coaches are ready to see what he can do.
Joining Smith in the backfield will be Carlos Huggins, who ran for 262 yards on 32 carries, along with a crew of three others.
“Anthony Henderson is going to be a two-way player getting time at running back. Andrew Henderson (no relation to Anthony and Jaquan) has really impressed me through the spring,” Hurst said. “Then you throw in possibly Devante Campbell, we feel like with those five we have ample bodies to run the football.”
The one area where experience is lacking will be at wide-out after having graduated all their receivers. Setting up on the edges will be Jamal Hardge, Evan House and freshmen Josh Sims, Caleb Allen and backup quarterback Austin Holloway.
“You have three potential freshman that could be playing there. But all of them catch the ball well and run good routes,” Hurst said. “But they’re freshman so they’re going to have to grow up in a hurry.”