LAST FRIDAY, the East Jackson Eagles suffered a difficult end to a difficult season.
For the second week in a row, the Eagles had a substantial lead on an opponent in the second quarter, but were unable to seal the deal as East Jackson fell 20-17 at Oconee County.
East Jackson ends its season with a 1-9 record. The Eagles’ sole win came on the opening day of the season against Banks County. The Eagles subsequently dropped nine straight games including all seven Region 8-AAA contests.
While Eagle head coach Gary Hughes isn’t thrilled with a one-win season, he does feel that the program has made strides from where it was in the summer.
“We were a bit disappointed in how we finished,” said Hughes. “We felt like there were three close games that we lost in the fourth quarter. If we could have pulled those off, we’d have finished as a 4-6 team, which is a reasonable expectation, but it didn’t happen that way. We are going forward and we are going to try to correct those things. It was disappointing in some ways, but we probably learned more about ourselves and what we have to get done.”
Several of the Eagles offensive leaders are graduating seniors and the team will likely miss their presence on the field in following seasons.
Hughes noted that he was proud of how his seniors handled the adversity they were dealt this season.
“(For the seniors) I’m the fourth head coach (the seniors) have had in four years,” said Hughes. “It’s a difficult thing sometimes for young people to be able to change coaches midstream – especially four times in four years with all different philosophies and different framework. I give them a lot of credit for hanging on. They got put in a tough situation and I think they handled it really well. We are trying to prepare them for life. You want to win football games along the way, but more importantly you want to develop men of character. I think that happened this year. They had to face a lot of adversity and they were able to push through. They were a special group.”