East Jackson has a region runner-up finish within its sights with a decisive game looming after spring break.
The Eagles (5-4, 3-1 Region 8-AAA) have one region game remaining — April 16 at Monroe Area — to determine if it will take a No. 2 seed into the Class AAA state playoffs.
A region runner-up finish hasn’t been accomplished by the program “in a while,” according to East Jackson coach Derek Davis.
“So that’s a positive,” Davis said. “Each game we have things we’re going to have to work on. We’ll improve on some areas, then we’ll have other areas we need to improve on, especially if we’re going to be competitive in the state tournament. That’s going to be our next focus.”
East Jackson is off until Monday (April 12, 7:30 p.m.) when it takes on rival Jackson County in a non-region road game.
The Eagles maintained sole possession of second-place in Region 8-AAA with a 2-1 home win over Stephens County Friday (April 2) on senior night.
“To get the win is good,” Davis said. “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think we played as well as we could have (Friday), but it’s good to get the win. So from a region perspective, that’s good. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Getting a lead in the win was no problem for East Jackson, but adding to it was.
Clay McEachin scored a goal in the third minute, putting the Eagles up quickly, but East Jackson couldn’t find the back of the net the rest of the opening half.
When asked, Davis said he was unsure if the early score led to decreased sense of urgency.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I still haven’t figured out sometimes what makes us tick. Some games it looks like we’re going to start off slow and we end up finishing strong. It’s just hard to say sometimes.”
East Jackson did, however, create a flurry of opportunities the during the final 10 minutes of the first half.
“We finally figured out that if we took it outside, we would have much more opportunities than what we did,” Davis said. “They stopped us pretty well going up the middle … We had some bright moments, and we had a lot of chances. We just didn’t finish. A lot of unlucky stuff.”
But the Eagles did cash in in the second half in the 55th minute when Jesus Perez was taken down inside the 18 near the six-yard-box and awarded a penalty kick. Perez converted, placing the ball into the bottom left of the frame, to put East Jackson up 2-0.
Stephens County, however, did pull back to within a goal with a score from Isaac Burtt in the 59th minute.
East Jackson has three regular-season games remaining — April 12 at Jackson County, April 13 (7:30 p.m.) at home against Oglethorpe County and April 16 (7:30 p.m.) on the road for its pivotal game with Monroe Area.