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Monday, February 26, 2024

Charleston Capitalizes on Paris Turnovers, Defeats Eagles 34-12

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The Charleston Tigers traveled down Highway 22 to play the Paris Eagles on Friday night. Charleston (3-4, 3-1), defeated the Eagles (2-5, 0-4) on a chilly night in Paris, 34-12. It was a game in which the final score did not indicate how well the Eagles played. Charleston was able to capitalize on Paris turnovers and impose its will with its running attack in the second half to win its third conference game of the year.

After the game, Charleston coach Ricky May talked about the importance of the win over Paris. “We told them (Charleston players) after our loss last week that we still control our own destiny. We just have to play good football together for four more weeks and hopefully keep rolling into the playoffs. It went well in the second half and that’s a big thing. The kids played good all night, played their butt off, made some mental mistakes early, but got them to turn the ball over, played good.” Charleston was able to run the ball successfully in the second half with its physical running game. “And that was big. Coach Stewart (Charleston offensive coordinator) did a good job, believing in our offensive line and just took over. I loved it.”

The fourth quarter started out a little reminiscent of last week’s game in which the Tigers took over possession of the football with approximately 10 minutes to go in the game and began to run the ball and control the clock. But this week there would be no lightning or dramatic turn of events to change the outcome of the game. The defense did not allow any points in the second half. The Tigers were simply able to control the game in the second half, win, and move on to preparation for Booneville.

Charleston jumped out to an early lead with 14 fourth-quarter points. Paris scored in the first quarter and missed a PAT to make the score 14-6 Charleston at the end of the first quarter. Paris cut the Charleston lead to 17-12 by the end of the first half. Charleston held Paris scoreless in the second half while adding 17 unanswered points off of Paris turnovers and a Charleston ball control offense. More stats on this game will be published tomorrow on RP if they are available.

In other action around the conference on Friday night, the Booneville Bearcats remained undefeated in conference play by winning at Mansfield. The results of Friday’s conference games were:

Charleston 34, Paris 12

Booneville 42, Mansfield 27

Lamar 20, Greenland 14

Cedarville 35, West Fork 14

After Friday night’s games, the conference standings are:

Booneville 4-0

Charleston 3-1

Lamar 3-1

Cedarville 3-1

Mansfield 2-2

Greenland 1-3

Paris 0-4

West Fork 0-4

If the season were to end today, Booneville would be a #1 seed in the state playoffs. Charleston and Lamar would be tied for the #2 seed. Cedarville would be the #4 seed, and Mansfield would be the #5 seed. Of course, that is today, October 19. Next week, the big game in the conference will be Charleston hosting Booneville. Charleston still has Booneville and Lamar left on their schedule, and a lot can change over the next three weeks. With three losses, Greenland appears to be in danger of not making the playoffs. But again, a lot can happen over the last few weeks of the season.

The other big game in the conference next week will be Mansfield traveling to Lamar to play the Warriors. With two losses, Mansfield will be fighting for its playoff life. Should the Tigers defeat Lamar, it could potentially lead to a three-way tie for second should Booneville defeat Charleston. All three teams, Charleston, Lamar, and Mansfield would have two losses. Mansfield would have tiebreaker advantages over both Charleston and Lamar. So, in short, the conference standings could be turned upside down depending on the outcome of the Mansfield and Charleston games.

With the overall strength of the conference schedule, it is a war of attrition every week. Coach May said it best back in early August when he predicted it may all come down to which teams are healthy at the end of the season. He also said that whoever the conference places into the playoffs, it will put five good teams in who will all have a chance to win games. That also seems to be true. In all sports in the 3A-1 conference this year, several schools are very good and will be very competitive all year.

Charleston took it on the nose with multiple injuries early in the year, but seem to be healthy and moving in a positive trend with respect to staying healthy. The Tigers may get yet another player back next week, and that is certainly good news going into the Booneville game. With so many good teams in the conference this year, they are beating each other every week. Can four wins get a team into the playoffs this year? Only time will tell.

Friday night’s game may have been the biggest game of the year for the Tigers. Charleston was able to put the Mansfield loss behind them and win a road game against a program, that, although is young and hasn’t had a lot of success the past two season, is talented and is showing great progress. The Eagles wanted to win badly against the Tigers, and they gave great effort against Charleston. A loss to Paris would not have eliminated the Tigers mathematically from the playoffs, but psychologically and schedule-wise for the remainder of the season, it could have had a devastating effect.

Paris coach Tyler Clark is doing a good job rebuilding the Eagles football program. The Eagles are young and are gaining valuable playing experience with each game. They have talented position players and good size on the offensive and defensive lines. Eagles fans, they are close. They need your continued support.

For Charleston, coach Ricky May and his staff did a very good job of showing their team that the Mansfield loss did not mean the end of the season for the Tigers. Charleston is a physical, talented team. But perhaps more importantly, they are a great group of players who are tough mentally, give everything they have in a game, and know how to win. Booneville will be a tough match-up. Not many teams have had success against Booneville. But this group of Tigers will be ready to play, and they will play hard, physical football, and they will put themselves in a position to win. They need Alumni Stadium to be filled with Tigers fans next Friday night.

Resident Press will be in Charleston next Friday night for the big showdown game that could vault the Tigers into a tie for first place in the conference. Check with Resident Press on Sunday afternoon for a preview of next Friday’s big game versus the Bearcats.

For now, here are more photos of the pageantry of Friday night’s game at Paris. Enjoy!

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Jim Best
Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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