THE BRIAN Smith era at East Jackson will get off to its unofficial start tonight when the Eagles scrimmage Johnson at home.
But it will be official enough for Smith. His team gets to hit someone else for a change and won’t have to worry about being black flagged due to an afternoon heat index. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at home.
“It’s just a chance to go and play and without having to worry about anything,” said Smith, who is in his first year at East Jackson after coaching at Hebron Christian Academy the last two years.
Practices have been either interrupted or modified the past few days due to soaring temperatures. The GHSA requires each school to have a heat policy for practices and those rules have either pulled East Jackson off the field or kept them from going in full pads on more than one occasion since preseason practice started.
So Smith is looking forward to getting an extended look at his new Eagle players during tonight’s dress rehearsal. East Jackson is coming off a 3-7 season.
“We’re trying to figure out who can play at each position and what schemes work,” said Smith, who noted that he got five scrimmages a year when he coached in South Carolina. “We know what works against ourselves. We want to see how it works against someone else.”
The practice game also allows Eagle fans a chance to come out and catch a sneak peak of Smith’s first team.
“We’re excited about playing this week,” Smith said. “We’ve got a great facility and we hope a lot of people come out and enjoy it.”
Following the scrimmage against Johnson — a Region 8-AAA team that went 2-8 a year ago — East Jackson will have just over two weeks to prepare for its Aug. 26 season opener against another Region 8-AAA school, White County. The Warriors went 9-3 a year ago and advanced to the second round of the Class AAA playoffs.
“That’s one of the reasons we like to scrimmage early,” Smith explained. “It gives you a chance to fix some of the problems.”