COVINGTON — Eastside’s football team is making great strides in making the 2014 season a huge success with a lot of participation for their summer.
“We’re averaging about 85-90 kids. We’re missing some of the basketball players because they’re doing their camp but we’re looking to be at full strength after the 4th of July break,” Eastside head football coach Rick Hurst said. “It’s been going well. I’m real pleased with the kids. I know they’ve had a great winter and spring and it’s carrying over.”
The Eagles, who finished the season 5-5 last year, are working on their passing game participating in a Gwinnett passing league every week as they concentrate on their passing without Austin Holloway who is splitting his time between football practice and travel baseball.
“He’s in a great spot as far as knowledge of the game for us and him doing what we want to do and what we want to accomplish,” Hurst said. “It’s kind of good to give our backup some reps.”
While the Eagles are working on their passing aspect of their game, one aspect which Hurst feels they will excel in this season will be their running game. Making their running game their potential strong point are the return of running backs Andrew Henderson, Jaquan Henderson, Carlos Huggins and Eric Stokes along with having an experienced front line.
“Those four guys give us a lot of options back there and Austin can run the ball for us as well,” Hurst said.
“I’ve been real pleased with the work of our offensive line. Having experience with the running backs and offensive line is always a big plus for us to bring those guys together. They’re bringing a new attitude up there and a new work ethic. I think that was important to those guys. They’re starting to gel and starting to develop a chemistry which is probably the most important part.”
One thing that Hurst has balance is working the team in the heat so that they become used to it while at the same time making sure they do not become overheated. They have to keep the team out of the midday heat working out three times a week for three hours starting at 4 p.m. while making sure the players help take responsibility for their own hydration.
“We always watch it,” Hurst said. “We’re trying to get them to get accumulated to the heat as much as possible. We have the coaches and managers out there making sure they stay hydrated.”
For the past nine years, Eastside has always had a passing tournament. But since one of the fields is being worked on they decided not to make it a 10th year. Another advantage of having the passing tournament is that it gave former players a chance to come back and interact with the current players.
Even though they are not having the tournament, several players have still come back including Taylor Head, Justin Wray and Louisville junior and NFL hopeful Sheldon Rankins.
“Sheldon came back a few weeks ago working out with our kids. He is one heck of a beast. He’s right around 305 pounds, cat quick, he’s just a powerful person,” Hurst said.
The summer is also a good time to develop players that could have an impact in the years to come as well as players that can help out now.
“We have around eight or nine sophomores that are really stepping up, working hard and putting us in a good position. Maybe not this year but in the year’s to come,” Hurst said.
“There have been a lot of players that stand out like Arthur Holmes, who is a returning defensive end and all-region player, he’s had a great offseason. I know Quin Mathis is having a real good offseason. Every since January he’s just been getting after it. Between winter and spring he’s put on like 20 pounds and gotten a lot stronger. When we got outside it really has shown out.”
Eastside to hold youth camp starting Monday
The Eastside football team and coaches will hold a three-day youth football camp from 10 a.m. until noon starting Monday.
Interested participants can register Monday before the camp start if camp. For more information contact Hurst at (678) 342-5850.