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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Charleston Looks to Get Back on Track at Paris

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It is time to move on. The horrific feeling of last Friday night’s loss to Mansfield may not be gone, but there is no time for the Charleston Tigers to dwell on what might have been. It is next game up for the Tigers. For Charleston, that means a trip down Highway 22 to Paris to play the Eagles.

The popular term used by many is “trap game”, but I am not sure anyone at Charleston, with everything this team has had to overcome, can consider any game a trap game. It doesn’t matter who the Tigers will play October 25 or any other week. The only thing the Tigers can afford to do is focus on the Eagles. Coach Ricky May expressed his concern that, “for us, hoping that this game is not a trap game; we had that rough loss Friday and we’ve got Booneville the week after the Paris game, and Paris has got some weapons. So we’ve got to make sure we focus on them (Paris).”

It may be natural after a tough stretch in the schedule to look at a 2-4 team as a chance to relax, but, that could be a huge mistake. Paris will be ready to play, and with Charleston coming to town, the Tigers can bet that they will get Paris’s best shot. In short, Charleston cannot feel sorry for itself. The Tigers have to be ready to play Friday night.

Charleston’s Rushing Attack Has Been Led By #14 Breckon Ketter

Paris is coached by second year head coach Tyler Clark. Clark was previously the offensive line coach at Class 6A Marion High School in eastern Arkansas before becoming the head coach at Paris. Clark took over for Marc Tucker who coached the Eagles for one year after coach Bryan Hutson departed Paris for Elkins. Clark has been rebuilding the Eagles football program since his arrival in 2018. In his first season, the Eagles did not win a varsity football game. So far, in 2019, the Eagles are 2-4, including a road win at Perryville and a home win against Class 4A Waldron. The Eagles football program is on the upswing under the direction of Clark. A win against Charleston would be a huge boost to the Eagles football program. By defeating their rival in Paris in front of the home fans, the program could take a big step in its rebuilding process. For Paris’s seniors, a win against Charleston would make their entire season.

Paris is a fairly young football team. The Eagles are led by sophomore quarterback Chase Watts. According to Charleston coach Ricky May, “they’ve got a young quarterback, but he is going to be a good one. He throws the ball well, runs the ball well. From the film I have watched, he is getting better on his progressions. They also have a senior running back (Blaise Woods), he’s a big guy, and he runs the ball really hard. They have a receiver (Keller Keen) and he can run. I want to say they had him listed with Hootens as a 4.4 (40 yard dash time). Paris has a lot of tradition and a lot of pride. Coach Clark has added a lot of stability to their program.”

As of the publication date of this story, team statistics for the Eagles were not available by Max Preps. However, according to Max Preps, the Eagles are ranked 30th in Arkansas in Class 3A, and 147th in Arkansas across all classifications. They have scored 99 points on the season and have given up 252.

The game at Paris is extremely important to Charleston for several reasons. First, it is important for the Tigers to get the bad taste out of their mouths following the loss to Mansfield. Secondly, the Tigers still have remaining games against Booneville, Lamar, and West Fork. For Charleston to have a chance to make the playoffs, they need to defeat Paris and win 1-2 of their remaining games. All opponents have to be respected, but the Tigers will play both Booneville, and Lamar at home in the coming weeks. That makes the Paris and West Fork games extremely important to Charleston. With that said, anyone is capable of beating anyone, and Charleston must be ready to play. Finally, Mansfield is at home this week versus Booneville. If the Bearcats defeat Mansfield, Charleston has an opportunity to pass Mansfield in the loss column this week.

This week’s conference schedule is:

Charleston at Paris

Booneville at Mansfield

Cedarville at West Fork

Lamar at Greenland

The key game in conference this week may be the Lamar at Greenland game. Greenland has two conference losses and Lamar has one. The Pirates are a dangerous, talented team and will be playing for their playoff lives. The Pirates are more than capable of defeating the Warriors. If Greenland pulls the mild upset, they are back in the race, and both Charleston and Mansfield will have breathing room. Mansfield would have the opportunity to take sole possession of first place with an upset win over Booneville. In the tough 3A-1 conference, each week feels like a playoff week.

Charleston has a lot to play for if they can keep their focus and not suffer a hang over effect from last Friday’s game. It is time for the upperclassmen on this team to assert their leadership and not allow the team to lose their focus of the goal of making the playoffs. After the emotional loss to Mansfield, the seniors on the team spoke up in the locker room, showing the leadership that will be necessary this week and for the remainder of the season. This team has been through a lot already this season, and the upperclassmen on this team have been great leaders.

Charleston’s entire season could be in the balance this Friday at Paris. A big positive for Charleston is that they once again played a game without getting anyone hurt or losing personnel for the next week’s game. The Tigers will need everyone healthy this week. Paris will bring everything they have, if for no other reason because it is Charleston on the other side of the field. It is time for the Tigers to stand up and let everyone know they are here and ready to play. If Charleston wins out the remainder of their schedule they will be conference champions. If the Tigers can defeat Paris, West Fork, and Lamar, Charleston should be in good shape for the playoffs. Either way, the Tigers must take care of business at Paris Friday night. It is that simple. Charleston must have a good week in practice, focusing solely on the Eagles. A loss Friday night to Paris would put Charleston in desperation mode to make the playoffs.

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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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