This past summer Eastside football coach Harold “Gator” Hoskins said that this year’s group of receivers was “probably one of the best group of receivers in Eastside history.”
On Friday night, three different receivers found the end zone in a 35-0 win at Keystone Heights to spoil the debut of new Indians’ football coach Steve Reynolds.
Junior quarterback Adrian Curtis, a transfer from P.K. Yonge, threw five touchdowns, including a pair to seniors Chris Bishop and Antoneo Wilson as the Rams improved to 2-0.
“It was a group effort,” Hoskins said. “The receivers, they came out tonight. We were running the ball great and got a chance to showcase our athletes on the outside, and Adrian threw some great balls tonight.”
Keystone Heights had some success moving the ball early but the Rams kept the Indians (0-1) out of the end zone for the second straight year and held Keystone Heights to 130 yards of total offense.
“We talked about trying to get a shutout this week, bend but don’t break, we had to face some adversities because they were running the football pretty good on us,” Hoskins said.
The Indians had three possessions end in Eastside territory in the first half.
“They played hard, they work hard, they keep getting better and improving, but I’ve got to do more to get us better and ready for situational football,” Reynolds said. “It was very similar to some of the issues we had last year where we were very successful moving the ball…we had situations where we got behind the sticks.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Rams got on the scoreboard first on a 72-yard touchdown pass from Curtis to Bishop. The extra point was blocked but it would be the only points Eastside would need with a 6-0 lead with 9:52 to play in the half.
After another Keystone drive stalled, the Rams took over on downs at their own 30-yard line and marched 70 yards, highlighting the drive with a 37-yard scoring toss from Curtis to Wilson.
The pair hooked up again on the 2-point conversion for a 14-0 lead with 3:24 to play in the half.
It appeared the game would be no worse than a 2-score game at the half. However, the Indians fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Ta'Joun Waldon recovered at the Indians’ 31-yard line.
Then, on the final play of the half, Curtis threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Wilson on 4th-and-goal for a 21-0 lead at the half.
“Man, he played lights out,” Hoskins said of Curtis. “He’s a special kid and can really throw that ball. He followed the game plan and executed it really, really well tonight.”
Curtis finished the half 7-of-9 for 143 yards and three touchdowns, but he wasn’t done yet.
Just a minute into the second half, his 57-yard scoring pass to Bishop extended it to a 28-0 lead.
Then, on their next possession, the Rams imposed a running clock thanks to an 80-yard touchdown pass from Curtis to Waldon with 6:51 to play in the third quarter.
Curtis finished the game 9-of-13 for 279 yards and five touchdowns in less than three quarters of action.
Eastside, which finished with 390 yards of total offense, will play rival Buchholz at Citizens Field next Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 106.9 FM “I am Country” beginning at 7 p.m.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” Hoskins said. “It’s going to be a great game, city rival, so I’m expecting a dogfight.”
Keystone Heights will host Fort White next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“We’ve got some new stuff defensively this season that we didn’t do last year, we’re trying to iron the kinks out,” Reynolds said. “We’re going to be alright.”
Friday, Sept. 1
Buchholz 53, Riverview (Sarasota) 31
Eastside 35, Keystone Heights 0
Hawthorne 40, Newberry 10
Leon (Tallahassee) 21, GHS 0
Oak Hall 34, Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) 13
Lanier County (Lakeland, GA) 33, Santa Fe (Alachua) 3
Williston 53, First Coast (Jacksonville) 36
Taylor (Pierson) 40, St. Francis Catholic Academy 18
Chiefland 42, Wildwood 26
Saturday, Sept. 2
Bradford (Starke) at Baldwin, 6:30 p.m.