D190928 East Lawrence vs Hatton

East Lawrence's Dylan Hunter carries for a first down during the game at East Lawrence High School on Friday. [JERONIMO NISA/DECATUR DAILY]

Friday will mark a golden opportunity for the East Lawrence Eagles as they will play host to Clements. 

It’s an important game for a lot of reasons. 

First and foremost, it’s a region game, and as the Eagles try to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008, this game is of big importance. 

But this game also offers a chance for the Eagles to do something they haven’t done in a long time. 

Coming off a two game winning streak, East Lawrence will attempt to win three games in a row for the first time since 1997. 

1997, which is also the last time the Eagles had a winning season, had a lot of different things going on. 

The Titanic was released in 1997, Seinfield was the top show on TV, the first Harry Potter book was released, Nebraska won their third national football championship in four years and yours truly was only one year old. 

That the Eagles have a chance to achieve something this week not seen since that year, not only shows the rough patch this program has gone through, but just how much it has turned around in year two under James Moore. 

“We met last night and I told them we had a chance to do something special,” Moore said. “We’ve already done some things this year we haven’t done either at all or in a long time. Now we have the chance to get three in a row for the first time since 1997.” 

This game will mark the second year in a row that Clements, who East Lawrence is 0-5 against, will come with a lot of pressure. 

Last year, despite starting 0-5, a win in week six put them in a spot to possibly make playoffs if they defeated Clements. It was a moment the Eagles weren’t quite ready for in Moore’s first year. 

“Last year we had a chance to get in the playoffs and we just weren’t ready for that kind of pressure. I think it scared them to death,” said Moore. “This time I’m not trying to put all the pressure on the kids because I think that’s unfair. But at the same time I want them to understand if they work hard they can reach these goals.” 

East Lawrence has shown drastic improvement this year. The Eagles are currently sitting at .500 after week six for the first time since 2009. They’ve even looked strong in defeat. So far, the Eagles have been the only team to put up a fight against Lauderdale County besides 4A Brooks. 

“You know there were times that I didn’t think we were going to get here,” he said. “But you’re starting to see it really click. I see it now and these kids have always worked hard, but now you’re starting to see them understand what it takes to be successful.” 

Players are starting to step up too. Isaih Hubbard has emerged as a strong QB option alongside established starter Hunter Letson that has made for a pretty effective two QB system the past two weeks. 

Dylan Hunter has eclipsed 100 yards in every game but one this year and currently leads the county in rushing with over 800 yards. 

Simply put, the Eagles are in a much different place now than they were this time last year.

“I’m excited for our kids to have this opportunity (against Clements), they’re a good football team,” Moore said. “The confidence that they’ve gained is the biggest key. Last year they were so worried about messing up that it hurt us, but now they’re starting to relax and have fun and the excitement is there.” 

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