IT’S ONLY spring football, but coach Brian Smith hopes the offseason session generated some momentum.
The Eagles — coming off a 3-7 season — wrapped up workouts Thursday, which were much to the second-year coach’s liking.
“We’re really pleased with everything,” Smith said. “We felt like our kids competed hard all spring and just really felt like we did a lot of good things and developed some players and got a little depth going.”
East Jackson capped its spring season with an intrasquad scrimmage that closely mirrored a real game. Assistant coach Matt Pruitt’s team beat assistant coach Ken Alridge’s team 35-14. Smith explained the format.
“We wanted to be an actual game-type situation where we had a winner and a loser,” Smith said. “We didn’t have just a little scrimmage. So for us, we thought it was great because our kids competed. I felt like we were a little more aggressive than we were last year.”
East Jackson hopes that pays off this fall. The Eagles, following back-to-back three win campaigns, move up to 8-AAA this year as the program begins its fifth year of varsity football.
“We felt like we got better this spring and, you know, hopefully that translates into a little better season this fall.”
East Jackson ended the spring with over 80 players in the program between the varsity and the junior varsity.
One major emphasis of spring is look at the new arrivals, and the three newcomers that impressed Smith the most were Andre Sangalang, Casey Reed and Tyree Rakestraw.
“Those are some basketball players that play a lot and will get a chance to really help our program and we’re really counting on those guys,” Smith said.
Smith also pointed to older, established players like Austin Beauchamp and Justin Aiken “who are just solid performers for us.”
As far as the depth chart, one main area of focus for East Jackson was quarterback after the Eagles struggled to throw the football all last fall.
Smith gave the slight edge to Caleb Hill — a lefthander who quarterbacked the junior varsity team last year — heading into the summer.
“Caleb Hill has a little lead because he’s got all the prior knowledge,” Smith said.
But he also liked the play of Patrick Chastain and Austin Beauchamp. Smith said those three will receive the most reps during summer passing league sessions.
“It’s really comes down to who’s the most effective, who can help us get the ball outside in space to some more athletic guys and at the same time, help our football team the best?” Smith said.
East Jackson’s summer schedule will include some team camps, summer passing league sessions and regular summer workouts. Practice with helmets only begins July 25. Aug. 1 is the first day teams can workout in full pads.
The Eagles’ scrimmage game is Aug. 16 against Monticello at home. East Jackson opens the season Aug. 31 at Banks County.