PLAYING Elbert County isn’t exactly the best remedy for a team coming off a 40-point loss to a rival school, but that’s what East Jackson faces this week.
The Eagles (0-4, 0-1) take on the Blue Devils (1-2) Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Granite Bowl.
“Elbert County is the best football team we’ve seen,” East Jackson coach Brian Smith said. “They’ll be one of the best football teams we’ll see all year.”
The Eagles, who fell to Jackson County 47-7 this past Friday, lost to Elbert County 45-14 last year in a game that frustrated Smith.
“I thought we played very scared against them last year, and did not want to play the physical nature that they played,” Smith said.
Elbert County — runners-up in Region 8-AA last year before moving up to 8-AAA this year — were a preseason top 10 in Class AAA this season but dropped out of the polls after losses to Buford and Cedar Shoals.
But this is still a high-powered team. The Blue Devils are led by dynamic running back Tyshon Dye, who has committed to Clemson. Dye ran for 129 yards on 13 carries in Elbert County’s most recent game — a 38-7 win Sept. 14 over Evans.
“Dye is a great player but he’s one of many on that squad,” Smith said.
Elbert County operates out of the Wing-T, which thrives on lot of misdirection. Smith explains the difficulty in defending this attack.
“Against the Wing-T, there’s going to come a time in every game when they run a counter play and you’ve got one man who has to stay at home and make a tackle with no help,” he said. “That kind of sums up your chances that night.”
Though Smith has only been coaching in Georgia for a few years, he’s pretty familiar with Elbert County’s program given its proximity to South Carolina, where Smith is from.
This will be his first trip to Elberton.
“I’ve never been to the Granite Bowl but I’ve heard a lot about it,” Smith said. “I know a ton of things about the program … It (Elbert County) is a storied program in the state of Georgia. There’s a reason they’re on top and there’s a reason they’re on top every year.”
Conversely, East Jackson is still trying to find its way following an 0-4 start on the year. The Eagles, who haven’t won since beating Jackson County 21-12 Sept. 16, 2011, were limited to just 107 yards of total offense in their loss to the Panthers this Friday night.
Smith said his concern is with continually getting better.
“I think the big thing for us right now is, again, we’ve got to focus on us and what we do and just continue to get better for this year and the future and try to improve the things that we do and do them better,” he said.