Playing on the road for just the second time this season, the Paris Eagles extended their season record to a perfect 6-0 with a win over conference opponent Little Rock Baptist Prep. Wearing the all white uniforms with royal blue trim for the first of three consecutive road trips in October, the Eagles won an important conference game to keep pace with Booneville and Atkins in the conference loss column for first place. Friday night’s win in the capitol city sets up a showdown for first place next Friday in Atkins with the Red Devils.
Baptist Prep, low on participation numbers in their football program, and hit hard by the injury bug to key players, played hard and pulled out all of the stops in an effort to compete against Paris. In fact, Baptist Prep kicked off to start the game by attempting an onside kick. Paris recovered the football, but was unable to move the ball.
The Paris Eagles started the game sluggishly but managed to lead at the end of the quarter by a score of 7-0. By the end of the first half, Paris was able to extend its lead to 21-7. Paris had begun to move the ball on offense while keeping the swift and athletic Baptist Prep running backs surrounded and held to minimal gains.
As the game progressed, Paris took advantage of its notable size advantage along the line of scrimmage and was able to get its power running game going. Both Duke Walker and Ely Fore were physical and ran hard all night, often getting tough yards between the tackles and ripping the Baptist Prep defense with long runs, as well.
The Paris defense was challenged with containing the small but fast and athletic skilled players from Baptist Prep. But the defense stopped the Baptist Eagles when it needed to and surrendered just 19 points in the game until Paris coach Tyler Clark began to make mass substitutions in the fourth quarter.
The kicking game continued to improve with excellent punting, and place kicking that got the job done on points after touchdown attempts. The Eagles kicking game could very well be a determining factor over the next three games as the Eagles are expected to play in tough and tightly-contested conference games that will determine the order of playoff seeds for the top five finishers in the conference. A missed extra point or field goal, or a botched punt or muffed return could be a difference in a critical game over the next three weeks.
Around the conference, the results of games of interest involving the conference leaders were:
Paris 57, LR Baptist Prep 26
Atkins 56, Danville 34
Booneville 40, Mayflower 7
Perryville 40, Two Rivers 0
Resident Press will have more on the conference race on Sunday in its preview of the Eagles game at Atkins.
For Paris, the regular season now comes down to four weeks. Three of the last four games will be played away from Eagles Stadium. But for Coach Clark’s Paris Eagles, it is very simple. Paris will likely finish no worse than fourth in the conference by virtue of its head-to-head wins over Mayflower and now Baptist Prep. A win next week over Atkins will likely mean the Eagles would finish no worse than third. A win over both Atkins and Perryville in the next two weeks, and the Eagles would more than likely finish no worse than a number two seed going into the state playoffs. And of course, if Paris defeats Atkins, Perryville, and comes home and defeats Booneville on homecoming night, the Eagles would be in first place in the loss column and would have to go on the road the following week to wrap-up the season at Danville.
And that’s it. It’s pretty simple. The worst sports cliche of all time applies to Paris: “you have to take them one game at a time.” An old, worn-out cliche, but it has never been more true than it is in this case. Paris simply needs to keep winning, and everything else will take care of itself. As Coach Clark has been saying all season, it is about us and making sure we do the things we can and need to do. He calls it a “nameless and faceless opponent” each week. It doesn’t matter who they play each week, the Eagles focus on making sure they do the things they can do and that they execute them well. The Eagles will have to be 100% focused next week at Atkins.
One final note. Due to the expedient work of the Paris Quarterback Club, the Eagles were provided with helmet stickers with the letters “MH” to honor school resource office Mike Haney. The team wore them in Little Rock on Friday night and will wear them into each of the remaining games this season. A fitting tribute by the team to a man who was their friend and one of their biggest supporters.
Congratulations to Coach Tyler Clark and the Paris Eagles on their 6-0 start to the season! And by the way, Coach Clark stirred a little controversy last week with his comment that his team was the first since 1969 to start a season 5-0. He also said that night that they may not be the best team since 1969, but they are one of the 5-0 teams. He certainly did not mean any disrespect to any other Paris team. So, after the Baptist Prep win to go 6-0, I asked him about the history of a team in the program winning their first six games. The answer: 1956…wow!
It has been a historical year for the Paris football program. Now, it is time to bear down and focus on a huge game against another program with a storied history.
Look for the Atkins preview on Sunday afternoon in Resident Press. Photos from Friday’s game in Little Rock will be posted on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports on Saturday afternoon.
Paris fans, your Eagles are 6-0!