EAST JACKSON is looking for something positive — anything — as it continues region play Friday at Franklin County.
The winless and banged-up Eagles (0-8, 0-5) take on a struggling Franklin County team (1-7, 0-5) at 7:30 p.m. on the road at Ed Bryant Stadium. Both teams are tied for last place in 8-AAA without a region victory.
“We are looking for an opportunity right now to just be successful,” Eagle coach Brian Smith said. “If we can find a few things and stay healthy throughout a game. Just start with the guys we have and let those guys stay healthy throughout the game, it would be a positive.”
East Jackson is coming off a 57-0 loss to North Oconee this past Friday. If there’s a silver lining to the Eagles’ season right now, it’s that the Eagles have already faced the toughest teams Region 8-AAA has to offer.
Franklin County and Oconee County — the final two teams on the Eagles’ schedule – are a combined 1-9 in Region 8-AAA play.
“Right now, the three teams that have had the least amount of success are obviously, us, Franklin and Oconee,” Smith said. “And so, what we’ve got to hope is that we’re healthy enough to survive the next two weeks and maybe they’ve had some of the same issues. We’ve all faced this gauntlet right now and it hasn’t been fun.”
That said, Smith expects big challenges this week and next week.
Against Franklin County, East Jackson goes up against a Lion team that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes he said.
“They don’t beat themselves a lot and we’ve been doing all that stuff,” Smith said. “We have been beating ourselves from week-to-week and that’s something we’ve got to stop doing right now.”
Franklin County uses a lot of two-back, two-receiver sets offensively, which means the Eagles must stop the run. Defensively, the Lions are strong up front, according to Smith.
“The main thing for us right now is that we’ve got to be able to establish the run,” he said. “Their front guys are pretty solid. There’s not a bad player.”
East Jackson continues to lose players due to injuries in what’s been a year-long epidemic. Tyrek Shelton (shoulder) and Casey Reed (shoulder) are both questionable for Friday’s game.
Quarterback Austin Beauchamp and linebacker-running back Davante Gresham left last Friday’s game with injuries but are expected to play this week.
“We knew coming into the season that we had to stay healthy and that we had to play well,” Smith said. “The less healthy we get, the harder it is for us to play well. We’re a totally different team (than the one) that played against Banks (County) and Commerce.”
For the Eagles at this point, it’s a matter of finding able bodies and persevering.
“We need some positive things to happen,” Smith said. “Hopefully, we’ve got enough guys sitting around here at the end that can help with that.”
The coach believes his team’s luck has to change eventually.
“We’ve just got to continue to work hard and some things, at some point, have to go positive for us,” he said.