Eastside’s bounce back took a week longer than expected, but it left no doubt in its 28-6 win over Churubusco that it’s still the one to beat in the NECC Small Division.
The Blazers played with energy, fight or juice that was missing in last week’s overtime loss to West Noble.
“A week ago, it was like we were at a funeral,” Eastside coach Todd Mason said. “We coached that up all week long.”
Coaches are often the ones making sure players on the sideline are encouraging their teammates on the field. On Friday, multiple players tried to fire up the sidelines and the team responded. In the team huddle after the game, quarterback Carsen Jacobs told his team that “it really helps” when the guys on the sideline are cheering them on.
Jacobs went 6-for-9 for 59 yards through the air and led the Blazers with 114 rushing yards on 20 carries and a score.
Eastside not only found its swagger again but also got a key piece back in the lineup. Stud running back/linebacker Dax Holman was out last week, and linebacker Dackotia Reed missed the game at Adams Central. Both were back against ‘Busco and both had a significant impact.
“We’re banged up and our guys are fighting their butts off. That’s what makes me proud as the coach of Eastside,” Mason said.
Holman rushed for 106 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. He introduced himself to every member of the Churubusco defense by running over many of them. Holman also had 5.5 tackles, two for loss.
“Dax Holman is the heart and soul of this football team. If you can’t see that, you’re blind,” Mason said. “Just the impact he had being out there, and he wasn’t a 100 percent out there. What a stinking warrior to do the things that he does. And another selfless player. Some of those blocks he laid for Carsen on those blasts and isos are legendary. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player, and I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Reed led the team with 6.5 tackles, 1.5 loss and a sack. On offense, he had two catches for 17 yards.
The one area where the Blazers didn’t act like they were banged up was along the offensive line.
“What’s awesome about those guys is that they’re selfless. Offensive linemen have to be selfless in order to play the position the right way, and they are,” Mason said.
Eastside’s offensive line from left to right is Gunnar Czaja, Garrett Thompson, Owen Davis, Dane Sebert and Joey Eck. They are big, powerful and nasty. Sebert put multiple defenders on their backside, and Eck pulled to the left and blew back a Busco blitzer in order to open up a huge hole for Briar Munsey.
“When you have five guys that are coming together as a unit like they are, that’s really positive for our program,” Mason said.
The offensive line will be key for the Blazers to make noise later in the postseason. They created a lot of holes against Bishop Luers in last year’s sectional, and those two teams are on a collision course to meet again when you look at the rest of the teams in Sectional 35. Eastside, Churubusco and Luers are the only teams with two wins through four weeks. The rest of the teams have a win or are still winless.
Eastside scored on all three of their first half possessions on Friday. By comparison, ‘Busco’s drives went punt, turnover on downs, punt and end of half. By the end of the second quarter and with Eastside about to take a three-score lead, the Eagles looked defeated.
Churubusco showed signs of life in the second half but struggled to find consistency.
That’s what Eastside does to you when it is at its best and has the juice to go along with it. They take the air out of the ball (Eastside had possession for 10 more minutes than Churubusco), keep the chains moving and wear you down.
When the juice is flowing, the Blazers are tough to stop.