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Discipline key as youthful teams take field in rivalry game

COVINGTON — Alcovy and Eastside are loaded with young players making discipline all that more important as Alcovy and Eastside clash in a season-opening rivalry game at 7:30 p.m. today at Homer Sharp Stadium.

“We’re going to have to be disciplined,” Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman said. “Are we going to be disciplined on defense and not have a lot of penalties on offense? Being so young that’s one of the things I worry about the most.”

“We want them to be excited. It just has to be controlled,” Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. “I don’t think its really sunk in yet until they get out there for real and see the stands packed. It’s the first game of the year for both teams I know there’s a lot of excitement through fans so we’re looking for a big turnout.”

Even though both sides are young, the youthfulness could be more of a problem for the Eagles (0-0) defense. Also hurting Eastside’s defense are injuries to a couple of senior players.

“One is being replaced with a sophomore and the other is a junior. Anytime you have to take out two guys that played a lot of snaps overt the last couple of years it definitely puts more strain on the guys that are out there,” Hurst said. “We did get good news about a couple of our younger kids that had been out. One was a starter all summer, Caleb Allen, he was just a sophomore but a pretty good sophomore.”

For the Tigers to win their third game in a row against Eastside they are going to have to establish their running game. Also helping set the tone for the Tigers will be all-around athlete and playmaker D’Anthony Bell. However, giving Hoffman a reason to pause is the fact that they have an untested quarterback in junior Bubba Hickson.

“We’re not going to be able to expand the playbook I can tell you that,” Hoffman said. “We’re going to have to keep things as simple as we can so we can cut down our mistakes. The thing we can’t do is hurt ourselves with penalties and missed assignments. If we can get (running game) working a little bit maybe we can throw the ball some.”

One aspect of the Eagles team that has the chance to make things happen is the offense with their three returning receivers. Even though Josh Sims is a sophomore, he had a lot of playing time last year and Hurst feels that as long as he continues to grow and improve he could be one of the best receivers coming out of Eastside. Also causing headaches for the Alcovy defense are Evan House and Tim Haynes.

“If we can keep those three on the field you really can’t double up on Josh or Evan,” Hurst said. “So now it makes the secondary play more pass responsibility and hopefully we’ll be able to pop a few runs and get some big plays downfield with the running game.

“I think we have a good plan against Alcovy. They’re very active defensively but just us they’re young and when you have youth on defense sometimes you find getting out of position because you’re not watching your key.”

Despite Alcovy being the home team, since Eastside also plays at Homer Sharp Stadium there really is no home field advantage in the cross-town rivalry game.

“Unless we play each other it is our stadium and it does feel like home,” Hurst said. “It’s weird being there but on the other sideline.”