A LITANY of injuries and a talented Elbert County team proved too great of an obstacle for East Jackson to overcome Friday.
The Blue Devils (2-2, 1-0) scored two touchdowns in each of the first three quarters in steamrolling their way to a 42-2 victory over a short-staffed Eagle football team (0-5, 0-2) in Elberton.
“I was prouder of our kids Friday night than I was the other four to be honest with you,” East Jackson coach Brian Smith said.
“Even though we struggled a little bit, given the injury situation we were handed as it got worse at Elbert, I thought our kids fought hard.”
East Jackson’s football team resembled more of a MASH unit between the injuries that struck the team the first four weeks of the season and again Friday night.
Starting center Josh Archer was out due to a shoulder injury, and back-up center Justin Akin — also the starting right guard — was already out due to hand surgery. The next option at center, Jake Samples, was out with an injured back. So East Jackson had to go with a fourth option — converting starting left tackle Robert Watterson — at center for the Elbert County game.
That created other holes to plug along the offensive line.
East Jackson had to promote a junior varsity lineman, Dayton Watkins, to start at left tackle. Starting right tackle Nick Whitmire moved to right guard. Demoy Cardoza played right tackle in his first start.
Elsewhere, defensive back Zach Hembree did not play due to injury and linebacker Andre Sangalang was already out due to an injury during pregame warm-ups against Commerce.
Making matters worse, Deangelo Moore — one of East Jackson’s top receivers and defensive backs — broke his collar bone early in the game. Later, quarterback Austin Beauchamp appeared to break his left hand in the third quarter. Turns out, it was only badly bruised, but he didn’t play another snap the rest of the way.
“It was a tough night from the injury perspective all around,” Smith said. “We were constantly working on personnel issues.”
As a result, East Jackson managed just 118 total yards and six first downs. Beauchamp — who was averaging 102.5 yards rushing per game — was limited to just 12 yards rushing on 12 carries and 26 yards through the air on 3-for-6 passing.
The Eagles’ only two points came as a result of special teams and defense.
East Jackson’s Austin Lumpkin pinned Hart County with a punt inside the one and a gang of Eagle tacklers later picked up the safety.
Despite the final score, Smith believed his team played harder in this loss than it had in previous weeks.
“So I was proud of them, because we’ve got some spots with some injuries where we weren’t sure which direction to go in a couple of things,” Smith said. “It made life tough for our team.”