3A Playoffs, 3rd Round: Eastern (11-1) highly rated, gets to play at home

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

This is no time for a football hangover for Eastern Alamance.

The Eagles have more to accomplish, so they can’t dwell on the past.

“Coach (John) Kirby really gets us straight,” quarterback Jason Ball said in an interview with The Alamance News. “We’re back to work.”

The Eagles rallied from a 21-point hole to dismiss rival Williams 27-24 in overtime in the second round last week. There was lots to absorb in that clash, but the Eagles are ready for the next task.

“At this time of the year, you can’t have a letdown,” Kirby said.

Fayetteville Sanford will visit Mebane for Friday night’s third-round game in Class 3-A. The good thing for Eastern (11-1), seeded No. 2 in the East Region, is that the Eagles have regularly been on the playoff scene.

“A lot of them have been in big games,” Kirby said. “They’ve got that mentality that they can’t lose. That’s not a bad thing.”

Ball is a first-year starter. But he was among the junior varsity players around for the postseason in 2021 and got a feel for how it goes.

“We were all up there for playoffs and got to experience that atmosphere,” Ball said.

As the second overtime game of the season with Williams unfolded, the Eagles managed to finish with another victory.

“We were relieved. We were thrilled,” Ball said. “We felt like we didn’t give up.”

The same could be said of No. 7 seed Fayetteville Sanford (10-2), which pulled out a second-round victory with a Hail Mary pass on the final play to defeat Scotland 58-55. That heave came from a back-up quarterback after an injury.

This week’s opponents might have more in common than close encounters.

“They’ve got athletes,” Kirby said. “They do some of the things we do on offense. A lot of formations are the same.”

The Eagles held a before-school practice Tuesday in an effort to avoid afternoon rains. They were on the practice field ready to get after it by 7:00 a.m.

“Our team is really dedicated and really cares,” Ball said.