by Taylor Williams
November 5, 2010 – October is ending, baseball is finally ending, and postseason football is right around the corner. High school ball has reached the latter third of the season, and for the Warren Easton Eagles, it’s been a bumpy ride to .500 record.
Easton (4-4) is a young team with big-time athleticism and playmaking abilities; a versatile offensive unit with a lot of spread and read-option looks. In head coach Tony Hull’s first three years they’ve rapidly transformed from district doormat to regular contender. They run the ball efficiently and securely, control the clock, and have a dangerous X-factor in athlete Cornell Stewart.
The 5-foot-9, 165 pound junior has been a huge contributor to Easton’s season so far. In addition to playing wide receiver and running back, Stewart handles the kickoff and punting chores, and usually covers opponents’ top vertical passing threats.
“He’s just an athlete,” Coach Hull said. “He runs a 4.29 forty-yard dash, he’s extremely quick and intelligent, and we like to line him up on the best receiver out there.”
Stewart is likely to be recruited as an athlete, with cornerback being the most plausible option at the college level given his size and quickness. And though the Eagles are primarily a spread team catered to athletes like Stewart, they’ve relied heavily on the run and winning the possession battle this year.
Stewart hasn’t flown too high on the college radar yet, but a win against top-ranked Edna Karr this Friday could quickly change that. Not to mention virtually guaranteeing the Eagles a spot in the playoffs.
Easton’s defense, led by senior linebacker and former offensive guard Steven Johnson, has to bring the heat against a high-powered Karr offense, force some early three and outs, and provide opportunities for the Eagles to eat the clock and control the tempo. The Eagles have just four senior defensive starters and moderate size, but the same athletic explosiveness in the pass rush the offense has.
The Eagles will also need some sizzle on special teams to beat the No. 1 team in Louisiana, and Stewart is the man for the job. Bottom line though, it’s going to take a complete effort from start to finish, with emphasis on the finishing part.
Coach Hull is extremely pleased with the direction his program is exhibiting, but a lack of experienced depth and a tendency to slip late in games have plagued the Eagles. After losing to Lutcher, the Eagles had two close bouts with St. Augustine and McDonogh 35 that broke down in the fourth quarter. And mostly traceable back to experience, or lack thereof.
“You can’t teach finishing games in practice, and it’s tough when you’re not real experienced,” Coach Hull said. “But now teams are alert of us and give us their best effort. We’re no longer the whipping boys of the district.”