COVINGTON -- It was a battle of the Eagles on Friday night against Eastside and North Clayton, but only one could fly out with the victory.
With the first Region 4-AAAA game and homecoming night on the mount for Eastside, they made sure not to disappoint with an impressive 39-2 win where the offense and defense both turned in strong performances.
“You always want to jump out in the region,” Eastside head coach Troy Hoff said. “That’s the goal and these and are the ones that count the most, and I’m happy the way we responded.”
Eastside (2-2, 1-0 Region 4-AAAA) got off to a fast start on their first drive of the game. Quarterback Noah Cook threw two consecutive big passes to set their offense up in the red zone.
It was a 16-yard pass to Jeff Haynes that set up a 2-yard touchdown run from Kenai Grier to get Eastside on the board first.
Not only did the offense set the tone with their play, but the defense made sure to follow. Constant pressure on North Clayton’s quarterback allowed the defense to force him into bad passes all first half.
On the Eagles next offensive drive, they decided to go to their bread-and-butter in the run game. Grier and Johnny Salter led a double-headed rushing attack to set Sincere Johnson up for a 6-yard score to put Eastside up 14-0 in the first quarter.
“Our running backs, we have a lot of young ones running through and it was good to see them play with some confidence running downhill,” Hoff said. “We’ve been on them about hitting things and not dancing, making that one cut and getting vertical.”
With Cook still looking for his first big game of the season, he continued to show off his arm leading to Eastside’s third touchdown of the half.
Cook followed with two more consecutive passes to Haynes and Jaylen Woods of 12 and 20 yards. To finish off the drive, he lobbed a 34-yard pass to Haynes in the back of the end zone.
“They continue to get better and better, and it started last year,” Hoff said. “Jeff didn’t have a big role on offense but he played a lot of snaps, and this year he’s obviously stepped out on his own. Those two put in a lot of work together, all through the summer and offseason so you’re starting to see that trust factor between them.”
Though it seemed all good for Eastside at times, they still had plenty of things to clean up. On a North Clayton punt, the ball was muffed which gave them the ball back and in better field position for the North Clayton offense.
It was Eastside’s luck that two plays later, North Clayton’s quarterback fumbled near the end zone. Eastside also had a number of holding calls that pushed them out of scoring range.
On their last drive of the half, they were as close as the 3-yard line and were on pursuit to score. However, a holding call, followed by a chop block call set them back to the 47-yard line.
“We just have to do a better job of executing,” Hoff said. “That’s one you want back because you’re driving it into the half and you want to get six, but we did a good of rebounding from it and getting into field goal range.”
Through all the chaos on that drive, Eastside still managed to get points on the board with an Ezra King field goal to take a commanding 24-2 lead into the beak.
Coming out of halftime, Eastside did not to put their foot on the break.
Thanks to a King punt that pinned North Clayton at their own 1-yard line, the third quarter began with a safety, which then set up a Grier 3-yard score on the Eagles’ ensuing possession, improving Eastside’s lead to 32-2.
The defense continued to chop at North Clayton’s offense, stopping the run and making the quarterback scramble on numerous drives.
They’re flying to the ball,” Hoff said. “They’re playing with a lot of energy and it starts up front. The defensive line is doing a good job and we’re still working with our pieces on the back end, and they’re getting better every week.”
To put the finishing touches on the game, Ramon Hernandez scored from 19 yards out and left North Clayton without an offensive score on the game to continue their streak of not scoring three or more touchdowns in a game since 2016.
The victory gives Eastside their first region win of the season, and more momentum moving forward.
EASTSIDE 39, NORTH CLAYTON 2
North Clayton 0 2 0 0
Eastside 14 10 8 7
Eastside: Kenai Grier 2 run (Ezra King kick), 9:43
Eastside: Sincere Johnson 15 run ( King kick), 3:35
North Clayton: Safety, 8:00
Eastside: Jeff Haynes 34 pass from Noah Cook (King kick), 4:50
Eastside: Ezra King 29 yard field goal, :3
Eastide: Safety, 4:40
Eastside: Kenai Grier 3 run ( King kick no good), 1:23
Eastside: Ramon Hernandez 19 run (King kick), 8:19