Posted: Monday, August 13th 2012 at 9:44am
Football 2012: East Jackson ready to take on stacked schedule
By Jeff Hart Staff
COMMERCE -- The Georgia High School Association did East Jackson football few favors with its new region alignments.
The Eagles moved into the revamped Region 8-AAA that features playoff teams Elbert County, North Oconee, Franklin County, Morgan County, and two other teams that finished .500 or better in 2011 in an eight-team field.
“It looks like we play in the SEC as far as I’m concerned,” said Smith, who is entering his second year as Eagles coach. “There are no easy games in our region. Heck, we may be the easy week right now.”
However, Smith acknowledges that the Eagles are much farther along at this point of the preseason than last year.
“Everyone was getting to know each other and our system last year. Now, most all of the kids have a year of learning it and we started (camp) basically working on perfecting our schemes rather than just trying to learning them,” Smith said. “I like the way things have started.”
East Jackson is coming off a tough 3-7 season, but, with a year under their belts in a wide-open, no-huddle spread attack, the Eagles may also be ready to show they can vie for the postseason. Smith expects juniors Austin Beauchamp and Caleb Hill to compete at quarterback and they will have two solid receivers in fellow juniors Drahsun Upadhyay and Deangleo Moore.
“We will have to throw the ball to win, and I like both our guys at quarterback,” Smith said. “Hopefully one of them will take over the spot, but we will play two (QBs) if that gives us the best chance to win. ‘Uppy’ and Deangelo could be really good and both have improved from last year.”
A key on offense will be finding a replacement at running back for the graduated C.J. Allen, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2011. Senior Davante Gresham heads the list to start in the backfield, but Smith admits the competition is wide-open. The biggest question mark for the Eagles will be the offensive line, which has just two returning starters in senior Jeff Chandler and junior Justin Akin.
On defense Beauchamp, who has yet to suit up on the defensive side of the ball in practice, and Gresham should anchor a good linebacking corps. The line and secondary are still works in progress leading up to the season-opener against Banks County in Homer.
“We’re still trying to find all the right combinations on defense but we have enough talent to be good once we get everyone in the right places,” Smith said.
EAST JACKSON: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Silver and Navy
CURRENT REGION: 8-AAA
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: Brian Smith, second year, 3-7
2011 RECORD/ ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 3-7
KEY LOSSES: RB C.J. Allen (over 1,000 yards rushing in 2011)
OFFENSIVE STYLE: Spread -- the Eagles will work out of a fast-paced, no huddle offense.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Jr. QB Austin Beauchamp and QB Jr. Caleb Hill, Jr. WR Drahsun Upadhyay, Jr. WR Deangleo Moore, Sr. OL Jeff Chandler, Jr. OL Justin Akin, Sr. RB Davante Gresham. Five starters return from last year on offense.
DEFENSIVE STYLE: 3-3-5 -- East Jackson looks to fill the field with athletes and let them make plays. Six starters return from last year on defense.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Jr. LB Austin Beauchamp, Sr. LB Davante Gresham, Jr. DB Drahsun Upadhyay, Jr. DB Deangleo Moore
STRENGTH: The Eagles passing attack should be solid again with junior QB Beauchamp and junior receivers Upadhyay and Moore all returning. Beauchamp and Gresham also will anchor a solid linebacking corps.
QUESTION: Experience -- both lines and the defensive and offensive backfields will be the key areas of concern for the Eagles. Only two linemen return from last year so finding the right combination and chemistry will be a focus in the preseason and early in the season.
KEY GAMES: The Eagles open with four of their first five games on the road, including their first two Region 8-AAA games against Jackson County and Elbert County. But, they finish the year with four of their last five games at home, including three straight against Hart County, Morgan County, and North Oconee.
TRENDING: The Eagles have missed out on the playoffs the last two seasons after what looked like a breakout year in 2009 that saw them advance to the second round of the Class AA playoffs. Smith is hoping to turn that around in 2012.
Aug. 31 at Banks County
Sept. 7 vs. Commerce
Sept. 14 at East Hall
Sept. 21 at Jackson County
Sept. 28 at Elbert County
Oct. 05 vs. Hart County
Oct. 19 vs. Morgan County
Oct. 26 vs. North Oconee
Nov. 2 at Franklin County
Nov. 9 vs. Oconee County
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