DESPITE a 30-10 loss to Hart County Friday, coach Brian Smith and East Jackson maintain a glass-half-full mentality heading into their off-week.
Smith believes the game revealed more than a mere 20-point setback.
“Our kids are getting better,” Smith said. “I think it shows. To us as coaches, we came out of this game a lot happier than we had in some of our wins. We weren’t really happy coming out of Jackson County. We felt like we did some positives against these guys.”
East Jackson returns to the field Oct. 14 against North Oconee.
Hart County’s Stephon Eades ran for 198 yards and four touchdowns Friday as the Bulldogs powered past East Jackson in Hartwell. Hart County scored two touchdowns in the last three minutes of the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead and put East Jackson in an early hole.
“That just killed us,” Smith said.
Still, Smith felt good about his team after it trailed 14-3 at the half and even 21-3 in the second half.
“And then we kind of got beat in the fourth (quarter) a little bit,” Smith said.
Smith said he’s certainly not pleased with a loss but saw a lot more fire out of his team.
“Here’s what I thought: I thought our kids competed a lot harder than they did against Oglethorpe and Jackson County,” Smith said. “I thought they played a lot harder than they did against Oglethorpe and Jackson County.”
East Jackson (3-3, 1-2) has now lost two straight. The Eagles’ only points came from Nick Alvarado, who hit a 26-yard field goal for East Jackson in the second quarter, and Trent Dowdy, who broke a 62-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left in the game.
Smith said East Jackson had been using Dowdy, who plays mostly as a defensive back, as a running back in practice. Dowdy has showcased his running ability on some long interception returns this year which prompted the Eagle coaches to experiment using him in the backfield.
“It’s a knack that he has when the ball is in his hands,” Smith said. “He figures out a way to get a lot of yards.”
Smith said Dowdy could see more time with the ball in his hands.
“He’s done a good job and he’ll probably get a little more playing time next week at it,” Smith said.
The biggest offensive night, however, belonged to standout tailback C.J. Allen who topped the century mark again with 144 yards on 18 carries. He picked up a 40-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage.
With no game this Friday, East Jackson will now use this week’s down to give the junior varsity more reps. In fact, the JV will practice with the varsity this week “just to kind of give us a look at some kids,” Smith said.
Smith said there will be less team emphasis and more individual work since East Jackson is off Friday. The Eagles’ off-date also coincides with its fall break, which starts Thursday.
“Just lined up with the school calendar, it’s phenomenal,” Smith said. “We couldn’t ask for any better. We kind of need a fresh start after the last couple of weeks.”