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Eastside boys soccer ready to build on last season's success

COVINGTON -- After making it to the second round of the state playoffs last year, Eastside's boys soccer team hopes to make it further this year. Unfortunately, there are a few other teams in Area 8-AAAA it has to get past first.

"We always want to be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed," Eastside head coach Champ Young said. "We'd like to go undefeated."

The Eagles will get a chance to prove its worth to others in their first game against Newton on Feb. 12 following the girls game at 5:30 p.m. Newton's first area game on Feb. 28 against Johnson, Gainesville, will put the winner in a good position to win the area championship.

The teams to beat in the area are Johnson, Gainesville, which made it to the final four in Class AAA last year, Chestatee and Lumpkin County.

"I've coached every kid on that team as little kids," Young said of the Lumpkin County team. "I know they're going to be good. I think that one of us four has a good chance to make it to the quarterfinals.

"Our region is going to be about the same; the top is very hard, the middle is about the same and the bottom is just as weak."

Giving Young hope that the Eagles can be a championship team is that everyone has experience at the varsity level -- plus they are very deep with talent.

"We're going to be a better team as a whole this year. We're going to be a lot more balanced," Young said. "We're good at depth. I've set the roster at 16 and every kid is going to play. There are good players that played last year that aren't playing this year because of the abilities we have, especially with the ninth-graders coming in. We look solid, I'm not going to say spectacular, but we look solid."

While the Eagles lost their top scorer, Trent Taylor, who led Class AAAA in scoring last year with 35 goals, Young feels that this team will be able to spread the ball around, making everyone a threat.

Some of the players Young is looking at to find the back of the net include Jacob Alwes, Philip Kinberger, Jake Shelton and Matt Edmiston.

"We're not going to have anyone that can score 35, I think, but I have one or two that can score 20," Young said. "We're going to score some goals; that's not a problem."

If Eastside has a weakness, it could be its lack of patience and forcing shots on goal.

"If it doesn't happen on that first wave, can we pull it back out and reset to do it again? We're working on it," Young said. "We're looking to do more possession this year and quit kicking the ball long. I don't want teams to touch it. I want to pass it around and let teams chase us."