Running game key to a homecoming win for Eastside

COVINGTON — Eastside is at a turning point in their season as Lumpkin County comes to Homer Sharp Stadium tonight.

Even though the Indians are 1-5 for the season, 1-2 in Region 8-AAAA, Eastside head coach Rick Hurst knows that if his Eagles (3-3, 1-2) aren’t careful they could fall victim to Lumpkin County.

“They’re very capable of beating us if we don’t clean some stuff up and do a better job in terms of basic stuff we’re not doing very well right now,” Hurst said.

A could spell doom to Eastside’s playoff chances as they would be 1-3 with Monroe Area and Stephens County still on the horizon.

“If these are games you’re suppose to win on paper then go out and do it and take care of business early and not let them hang around. In the third and fourth quarter, if they’re still in it they start believing,” Hurst said. “If you can put them away early they’ll start looking at we’re 1-5 and here we go again. But if you let them hang around you could be in trouble.”

Eastside’s running game is going to have to improve for two reasons. Not only do they need it to provide the Eagles with a balanced attack, they also need to get their running game on track to give freshman quarterback Austin Holloway some help.

“You can’t expect him to go out and take over a football game. He’s got the ability, but he has to have the help around him,” Hurst said of Holloway. “We have to do a better job at running the football and taking some pressure off of him.

“If we do that than it’ll make Austin a lot more effective. He’s very good at play action and hiding the ball and doing things like that. That makes us better when we’re able to be more balanced.”

Responsible for getting Eastside’s running game headed in the right direction are Jomandi Smith, Carlos Huggins, Anthony Henderson, Andrew Henderson and Jaquan Henderson.

“All of them have got to produce and step up and put points on the board and get big chunks. If we can take some time off the clock and eat up yards I think we can be successful,” Hurst said.

Giving the Eagles coaches some concern for their running game is the fact that a lot of the lineman are being forced to play both sides of the line of scrimmage. Against Lanier last week, that gave the Longhorns some easy points as turnovers gave them short fields causing the players to be on defense a lot more than they should have.

“It came down to fatigue. We put our defense in bad spots and gave them some short fields. When you do that you set yourself up,” Hurst said. “That’s why we have to get some long drives and keep our guys off the field.”

Besides not wanting to fall to 1-3 in region play and under .500 for their overall record, the other reason the Eagles want a win is because its homecoming.

“The seniors want to go out with a win on homecoming. It’s like I told them, it’s one of the few you remember. I remember mine both in high school and in college. That’s one of the two or three games that I remember fully,” Hurst said. “Those are the one’s you’ll remember for the rest of your lives.”