Showing steady progress throughout the first three weeks of the 2013 season, the Rusk Eagles were able to crack into the win column in a big way Friday night by shutting out previously undefeated Eustace, 21-0, in Rusk's home opener at Eagle Stadium in Rusk.
Rusk opened the year with road losses to Class 4A Terrell and to Crockett, but the Red and Black did show improvement from Zero Week to Week 1, with even more good stuff coming Friday against a Bulldog team that had scored an average of 27 points a game in its wins over Canton and Rice.
“Slowly, but surely, we have been getting better,” Rusk head coach Ted Patton said. “Our defense has played well all season long and I think Friday night that we started to see our offensive line start to gel.”
The blanking of an opponent was Rusk's first since late September, 2011 when the Eagles soared past Diboll, 43-0.
Rusk's biggest question marks coming into the season were on the offensive front; so for some of the answers to have began to surface is a step in the right direction for the Eagles, who are now 1-2 on the year.
“Eustace has a hard-nose team and they have proven that they can score some points,” Patton said. “A win like this gives our team confidence.
“Offensively we were able to finish some drives out and get the ball in the end zone. We still had drives that we couldn't get the ball in the end zone, so we still have to work on some things.”
Patton said that Rusk's defense has been playing pretty well all year and that in the Eustace game it was a total team effort on the defensive side that allowed the Red and Black to hang the goose egg on the “Dogs.
“We had a good all-around team effort defensively on Friday,” Patton said. “(Against Crockett) we had one or two kids that stepped up, but in the Eustace game the unit performed well as a group, and as a coach, you always like to see that.”
Rusk will face another unbeaten unit on Friday when the Eagles entertain the Athens Hornets (3-0) at 7:30 p.m.
Athens own wins over Kaufman (31-25), Spring Hill (41-0) and most recently against Gladewater (41-7).