Countdown To Kickoff: Eastside Rams

Rams have their work cut out after five wins in the last three seasons
Rams 2-8 last season, just five wins in the last three years
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:52 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -2022 will be a season of transition at Eastside High School. But the Rams’ new man in charge knows all about competitive drive. After more than a decade away from the program, Eastside alum and former Marshall star Harold “Gator” Hoskins returns home as head coach of the Rams.

“It’s very important,” said Hoskins. “I felt it was time to come home and give back to my school and change the culture around there.”

There’s a reason Hoskins feels that way. Eastside is Just 5-25 over the last three seasons, and has lost 23 straight games to rivals GHS and Buchholz. The Rams have also lacked continuity, as Hoskins wasn’t hired until two weeks remained in spring practice. But having a distinguished alum as head coach fuels the Rams’ appetite for football.

“I’d say they’re legendary to us, because they bring new aspects of the team, getting us to where we need to be at,” said Eastside senior running back / linebacker Micah Hudson. “It shows that everybody can make it to another level because he came from the same thing we came from.”

“To know what he represents and what he’s done for Eastside, and to continue that, it’s a good advantage to have,” said Eastside senior quarterback Holden Johnson.

“We have a lot of talent, we have a lot of skill players, we have leadership, a great quarterback with experience,” said Hoskins. “And our defense has been flying around so far in 7-on-7 drills.”

Success in football begins at the line of scrimmage. One player the Rams will lean on is only a tenth grader. Jaquez Whitehead started most of last season on the offensive line as a freshman.

“This year I’m looking forward to getting more playing time, playing both sides of the ball and Just being a dominant player,” said Whitehead.

The Rams debut this year in Class 2A Suburban and play in the same district as Santa Fe and North Marion. Despite their challenges, the Rams feel they’ll ready they kick off against P.K. Yonge on Aug. 26.

“I think the first game is going to be showing what we’ve been putting in over the summer and all the past years,” said Eastside senior wide receiver Daniel Fudge. “We just have to let it all out on the field and see what happens.”

“We’ve got time,” said Hoskins. “I’m most excited about helping these guys become better young men.”

And if Hoskins can develop his program, Eastside could very well turn out to be Ram Tough.

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