It’s been a heck of a year for Eastwood.
The Eagles are Northern Buckeye Conference champs for the second-straight year.
Now Eastwood is 14-0 and ranked number one in the state. Friday, they will put all of that on the line in hopes of bringing home their first state title in school history.
“Obviously the excitement level is getting cranked up,” said Eastwood head coach Craig Rutherford. “And we know this is it. I mean, win or lose, this is our last game together.”
The Eagles returned 17 starters to their roster this year, one of them being sophomore Jaden Rayford.
The 6'2'' running back put up more than 2,000 yards and 35 touchdowns this season. He attributes that success the guys in front blocking for him.
“They’re definitely one of the best group of guys we have,” Rayford said. “They always do their hardest, work as hard as they can, and that just leads to what I got.”
With Rayford’s strength, speed and power, it is hard to remember he is only a sophomore.
“Honestly at times, the coach forgets I’m a sophomore, and it makes me feel like I’m not even a sophomore,” Rayford said. “But I know I’ll have a better mindset going into next year, I’ll know what I’m doing more.”
For first year head coach Craig Rutherford, Rayford’s work horse mentality has been a key part of the Eagles' success.
“He doesn’t mind carrying the ball 40 times, and that’s tough, that’s physically demanding,” Coach Rutherford said. “And as he’s grown up in this offense, he looks forward to that.”
Rayford and the Eagles now get ready to face third-ranked in state Wheelersburg Friday afternoon in the Division V State Championship game at 3 p.m. inside Canton’s Hall of Fame Stadium.
“We know what we’re going to have to go in and do to get it done,” Rayford said. “And we’re just going to have to be the tougher team and grind it out.”