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Football 2017

ers will contribute in big ways. “All of the starting receivers, Jalon Lackey, Jamari Brown, and Jerry Mays, are athletes that are capable of making big plays,” he said. “I’m just trying to get the ball into one of their hands and let them do what they do.” As far as a season goal goes, Harper is looking for his team to make it past the first round of the

playoffs, a feat the team hasn’t accomplished since Harper’s freshman year in 2014. “I know we are very capable of doing it,” he said. The experience in Harper and the competitive edge he possesses should carry well in game time situations, and if he lives up to his above average attributes, Eastside will not have missed a beat at the quarterback position.

Our philosophy hasn’t changed. I expect for us to compete, to get to game 11, and to enter the playoffs as a number one or two seed so that we host the opening round. The expectations don’t change for us.”

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RUNDOWN Returning Starters: OL/DL Lamarius Benson (SR), WR/DB Jamari Brown (JR), RB/DB Taylor Carter (JR), OL/DL Spurgeon Gaither (SR), QB Brayden Harper (SR), LB Jaylon Lackey (SR), LB Rico Ruffin (SR). Key Departures: Eric Stokes, Austin Holloway, Josh Sims, Garrett Stevens, Davin Griffieth, Caleb Allen. Key Newcomers: Transfers- RB Tyon Davis (SR) and RB Jordan Rogers (JR). When On Offense: Eastside possesses explosive athletes all over the field, including two-time All-Region wide receiver turned quarterback, Brayden Harper. Its spread option attack is spearheaded by a talented trio of running backs. When On Defense: Defensive Coordinator Nathan Ogle will look to keep opposing offenses on their heels by employing multiple defensive fronts. With an athletic linebacker corps led by seniors Rico Ruffin and Jaylon Lackey as

well as South Carolina commit Lamarius Benson holding it down in the trenches, defensive versatility shouldn’t be an issue for Eastside. When On Special Teams: Expect the explosive playmaking junior Jamari Brown to handle most of the return duties. Key Games: 8/19: Luella @ Eastside: Always good for a young team to start off with a win. 8/25: Eastside @ Newton: Eastside vs. Newton is an absolute rivalry in every sense of the word. The all time series between the two teams is deadlocked at 6-6-1 after last year’s game ended in a 41-41 tie. 9/23: Oconee County @ Eastside: Oconee will be looking to salvage a heartbreaking loss in last year’s matchup. 10/13: Eastside @ Woodward Academy: One of the key region games for Eastside that can be a barometer matchup for the Eagles.

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Eastside senior Brayden Harper has found the transition from all-region wideout to starting quarterback to be fairly seamless.

READY AND WILLING Senior Brayden Harper prepares to take the reigns as Eastside’s quarteback TYLER WILLIAMS twilliams@covnews.com

For the past three and a half seasons, the Eastside offense was held down confidently by now former quarterback, Austin Holloway. Although not the tallest quarterback, his ability to recognize pressure in the pocket and extend plays as well as delivering passes with pin point accuracy made him one of the school’s, and the county’s all-time

greatest. Now, Holloway is gone, but Eastside has an advantage of already knowing who his replacement is, and it is someone all too familiar with Holloway and the offense. Senior quarterback Brayden Harper is entering his final season as an Eagle, but despite just now taking over the starting QB role, he was on the other side of a Holloway pass many times in years prior as an All-Region receiver, and one of

his go-to guys. However, the transition from receiver back into quarterback is one Harper isn’t having much of a problem doing. “Quarterback is not really a foreign position to me,” he said. “I played it all through middle and my freshman year, so this summer has just been mainly getting me back and acclimated into the position again.” It’s an offensive and team lead-

ership role that Harper said he felt good taking on as well. “I enjoy the challenges that come with it,” he said. “As far as leadership goes, I’m just trying to do the best I can to help get the team ready when we hit the field August 19th.” Despite taking the snaps in Eastside’s fast-paced no-huddle offense, his transition takes a veteran away from a receiving corps that also lost top receiver Josh Sims, but Harper believes his corps of starting receiv-

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2017-2018 Football Preview  

2017-2018 Football Preview  

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