Last Friday, the East Jackson football team was overwhelmed in its home opener as the Eagles fell 35-15 to Hebron Christian Academy.
And while the score was one-sided, East Jackson head coach Gary Hughes isn’t concerned. He’s actually optimistic about the way his team is playing heading into this Friday’s home matchup with Lakeview Academy.
“As strange as it sounds, I’m oddly encouraged about what we were able to do,” said Hughes.
While the Eagles were down 35-0 at the half last week, the score doesn’t totally reflect what they were able to accomplish on offense. To say the Eagle’s rushing attack was effective is an understatement.
The Eagles racked up over 200 yards on the ground and had three running backs average over five yards per carry. Fullback Taylor Murphy picked up 137 yards and two touchdowns on 25 touches. Trevor Pressley gained 47 yards on six carries, while Devonte Browner rushed for 38 yards on four carries.
“In terms of getting production, I think we did well,” said Hughes. “We are getting what we need, we just have to take care of the meltdowns. As we progress, I think we’ll get better and better.“
While the Eagles were able to move the ball consistently, East Jackson shot itself in the foot on multiple occasions – whether it was goal-line turnovers, blown coverages or special teams mishaps.
“We just can’t allow the big play to happen,” said Hughes. “We can’t be a victim of the big play. Did we play well enough to win? Yeah I think so. Take away some of those plays, and all the sudden it’s a different ballgame.”
The Eagles will try to limit big plays and costly mistakes this Friday when Lakeview takes the field. Hughes expects the Lions to bring an arsenal of talented skill position players on offense, including quarterback David Abee, who Hughes noted as “having great touch on the ball.” Hughes also praised running back Tate Turner and receiver Jordan Reed.
“Offensively, they have some weapons that can hurt you,” said Hughes. “We’ll have to play well defensively to slow those guys down. Their running back’s hard to tackle and their receiver makes people miss. We are going to have our hands full. That’s for sure.”