EAST JACKSON coach Brian Smith vowed to throw the ball more this year, and he might have found the quarterback to do it.
Making his first varsity start, junior signal caller Austin Beauchamp threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns Friday night in the Eagles’ 46-30 loss to Banks County (click here for pictures). If that wasn’t enough, Beauchamp added 120 yards on the ground and a touchdown in a monster debut.
East Jackson only threw for 134 yards combined last year.
“It was fun because we didn’t do much offensively last year,” Beauchamp said. “We’ve done a lot more so far this season — more passing and stuff. It’s fun.”
All totaled, East Jackson put up 405 total yards against Banks County, and the Eagles hope for similar production this Friday when they take on Commerce at 7:30 p.m. at home.
Beauchamp took the first-game offensive success in stride.
“It was good — a lot of fun I guess,” Beauchamp said. “My offensive line did good blocking most of the night.”
His play certainly got his coach’s attention.
“For somebody making their first start, I’ve never had a kid come out and play like that,” said Smith, who called on Beauchamp to throw the ball 35 times.
The coach also praised the work of the guys up front who paved the way.
“I was pleased with how our offensive line protected,” said Smith, who noted the play of Justin Aikin and Nick Whitmire in particular.
Despite the loss, East Jackson may have found some good quarterback-receiver connections in the Eagles’ more wide-open offense this year.
Beauchamp hit Drashun Upadhyay twice and Deangelo Moore once for touchdown passes against Banks County, and Upadhyay had 135 yards receiving on five catches. Casey Reed caught three passes for 75 yards.
Smith said in the preseason that he believed the team’s athletic receiving corps would be a strength and the group lived up to that billing in week one at least.
“I thought the receivers did good,” Smith said. “The only disappointing thing is that we had a couple of dropped balls.”
Beauchamp noted the potential of this group of receivers.
“As long as they run their good routes and stuff, we do good,” Beauchamp said. “If everybody does the right thing, we do good.”
Not to be forgotten are the 120 yards Beauchamp gained on the ground. The running ability of the 6-0, 215-lb. signal caller certainly adds another dimension to the Eagle offense.
“We’re going to try to run the quarterback because it’s something we like to do,” Smith said.
Still, East Jackson lost by 16 points, so the Eagles certainly have things to fix this week. The loss included three turnovers and squandering some scoring opportunities.
Beauchamp and the East Jackson offense will be going up against a Commerce defense that limited Jefferson’s offense to 215 yards last week in the Tigers’ 22-7 win.
“We just got to come out and play,” Beauchamp said. “We can’t be thinking about how good they are. We’ve just got to come and play our game.”