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Posted: Friday, September 20th 2013 at 7:23pm

Chestatee looking to bring physical style to Eastside (Video)

By Morgan Lee Editor
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Chestatee will head on the road to face Eastside tonight in its Region 8-AAAA opener. / photo: Robert Hernandez
Chestatee football coach Stan Luttrell freely admits that explosive plays have been hard to come by so far for his War Eagles.

He also believes those plays are just on the horizon for a team that is still finding its feet just two games into the 2013 campaign.

“Against West Hall I can think of three plays off the top of my head where we were a step away from explosive touchdowns,” said Luttrell, whose Chestatee is averaging 15 points per game while going 1-1. “The more comfortable this team gets playing with each other and the more they grind the more explosive plays we’re going to have.”

And the War Eagles certainly have no problem grinding. In fact physical, aggressive play is something on which Chestatee is already thriving this campaign, and the War Eagles hope to mash a number of Region 8-AAAA foes in the coming weeks -- knowing that the more they hit, the more chance for big plays will occur.

(NOTE: To watch a video feature with Chestatee, simply click "play" on the video box to the right. And to read about the area's other match-ups, click here.)

“I think this team taken on the personality of our coaching staff,” Luttrell said. “This staff loves to get after it, loves hard work and making this game a physical game. To see (our players) embrace that is encouraging -- and to continue to build on the success of last year but put their own identity on this year is a testament to program.”

That identity right now is all about toughness, including a number of interchangeable players along both the lines of scrimmage and at the skill positions. But after Friday night, the War Eagles hope to include a big-game mentality amongst their strengths -- because they certainly face a key showdown as they travel to take on Eastside in Convington.

“Eastside has a team that most people are picking to be second in the region right now,” Luttrell said. “They have an athletic team, a well-coached team. It’s going to be a big challenge for us. I’m anxious to see how the guys respond.”

Last season, Chestatee responded to the Eastside challenge with one of the most exciting contests in War Eagle history, outlasting Eastside (also the Eagles) 57-56 in three overtimes -- a victory that helped Chestatee to produce its best season in program history at 8-3.

Chestatee expects Eastside to try and replicate its offensive output from a season ago, relying on speedy playmakers that like to get to the perimeter, as well as a defense that gets to the ball en masse and likes to force turnovers.

“They’re very athletic on offense, with an athletic quarterback,” Luttrell said, referencing Eastside senior signal caller Demario Terrell (324 yards passing, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 79 yards rushing). “They do a good job of using their weapons, trying to make you defend the width of the field and creating seams and taking those seams. Defensively, they do a great job of running to the ball. They also do a great job trying to force turnovers and forcing you to run side-to-side.”

Just don’t expect the War Eagles to do much running away from defenders tonight. In fact Chestatee would rather run right at potential tacklers.

“It’s going to be a real physical game,” War Eagles senior defensive end/tight end Khalil Cantrell said. “We’ve got a lot of fast guys on line of scrimmage; we just want to play hard, be physical and make more plays than them.”

And as far as the War Eagles are concerned, it doesn’t matter who makes those plays.

Zac Cheshire currently leads the team with 144 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but the senior running back is just one of a number of options Chestatee can plug in behind an imposing offensive line – including quarterback Wyatt Burgess and running back Blake Buffington, who also have close to 100 yards rushing and have scored once apiece.

“ It’s a huge deal because when anyone gets tired we can easily swap someone else in there, get better and come back with fresh legs,” Cheshire said. “It’s definitely a group effort.”

The War Eagles know they will need the entire group focused to stop an Eastside team that is averaging 31 points per game on offense and also features running backs Anthony Henderson (197 yards rushing 3 TDs) and Jamondi Smith (156 yards, 3 TDs). And from what he’s seen so far this campaign, Luttrell says that playing together should not be an issue for Chestatee.

“The best thing they’re doing is playing as a team,” Luttrell said. “They’re not giving up in any circumstance. We fought to the end against North Hall (in a 33-15 loss) and against West Hall we came from behind twice (to win 15-14). These guys don’t have any quit in them. They play hard, play as a team. They’re very business-like; they don’t get too high or too low. And I think this team will have some chances to make some things happen.”

That all starts tonight.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Sharp Stadium, Covington
-- CHESTATEE (1-1, 0-0 Region 8-AAAA): Bye last week after defeating West Hall 15-14 two weeks ago.
-- EASTSIDE (2-1, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost to Alcovy 20-10 last week.
-- HISTORY: The War Eagles won the only meeting between the two teams last year in a wild 57-56 finish in three overtimes. . .Chestatee’s offense has struggled in the early going with injuries averaging 15 ppg but the Eastside defense has allowed 25.1 ppg so far this season. . .The Eastside offense is averaging 31 ppg. . .The War Eagles are 5-1 in their last six road games.
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