The storybook season continued for Paris on Friday night when the Eagles ran to a 56-7 win over the Perryville Mustangs. Paris (8-0, 4-0) has now separated themselves from most of the conference contenders with head-to-head wins over both Perryville and Atkins. The Eagles are perched atop of the 3A-4 conference and will return home after three consecutive weeks on the road to host the Booneville Bearcats for what will likely be the conference championship and the number one seed from the conference going into the state playoffs.
The Eagles have proven themselves to be road warriors this season, winning all four season away games. Paris will return home on October 30 for homecoming and a historic showdown with the Booneville Bearcats. The Eagles will conclude the regular season with a trip to Danville on November 6.
Perryville took the opening kickoff and was able to move the ball quickly inside the Eagles’ red zone on their first possession. But the Paris defense, who have played magnificently all season, stopped the Mustangs and forced a field goal attempt. The attempt was no good and Paris took over possession.
Paris was unable to move the ball on offense, starting slowly as it has in some of its games this year. Perryville eventually took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, and when the quarter ended, Paris was behind for just the second time this season at the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles defense took over the game from that point, shutting down the Perryville offense for most of the game. When the Eagles offense got on track with its tandem running threats of Ely Fore and Duke Walker, the passing game opened up and quarterback Chase Watts was able to hit big passes that gouged the Mustangs’ defense.
After the Mustangs took a 7-0 first quarter lead, Paris responded with 56 unanswered points by scoring 21 points in each of the second and third quarters, and in the time-shortened fourth quarter, the Eagles added 14 more points. All of this as the swarming Paris defense pitched a shutout for three quarters.
In the other game involving top conference contenders, Booneville defeated Atkins on Friday by a score of 43-14. Going into next week’s monster clash with Booneville, the conference standings are:
Paris 4 – 0
Booneville 2 – 0
Atkins 3 – 2
Perryville 3 – 2
Mayflower 1 – 2
Danville 1 – 2
Two Rivers 0 – 3
Baptist Prep 0 – 3
After the game in Perryville, Paris head coach Tyler Clark praised his team for maintaining their focus to win their eighth game of the season. Perhaps the most impressive part of the Eagles success has been the domination of some very good football programs on the road over the past three weeks. Coach Clark said, “I don’t know about dominated, the score says we did, but hats off to Perryville. That’s a really good football team. We came out and they got after us a little early in the game. I was really curious to see how we would respond, and I thought we responded well. I am proud of our kids for that.”
The Paris offensive line took over the game after the first quarter and opened gaping holes in the Perryville defense. Running back Ely Fore and Duke Walker took advantage of the massive Eagles offensive line and took over the game with gashing and physical, downhill rushing. Coach Clark commented, “They (the offensive line) have been our strength all year. No doubt we have good backs, but good backs don’t do much without a good offensive line. The offensive line was getting after it. We’re big up front, we’re moving people, and we’re being intelligent about what we are doing. So, I’m really proud of our O linemen; they’re kind of the unsung heroes.”
The Paris defense has played “lights out” defense all season. I asked Coach Clark if he was going to take his defensive coordinator out to dinner, and he responded, “He’s doing a heck of a job, isn’t he? Our whole defensive staff; Coach Baxter, our defensive coordinator, is doing an outstanding job. It makes offense kind of easy for us when you only have to score 7 or 14 points to win. But at the same time, we’re throwing up 42, 45 a game. So, just really good things happening right now.”
Things are really going good for the Eagles. For the second consecutive night, Paris had media representatives on their sidelines as the team continues to attract attention statewide. In Perryville, Mr. Chad Hooten of Hooten’s Arkansas Football publication was on the Eagles sidelines and taking video of the team during the second half. And with each passing week, the stage gets bigger, the games have greater implications, and the Eagles are one week closer to realizing the team goals they have set and have invested so much of their effort to accomplish. This is a very special group of Eagles, and they still have a lot of football left to play this year.
The road odyssey is over for the Eagles, and at long last, they will return home to the friendly confines of Eagle Stadium to play their final home game of the regular season. Friday’s win at Perryville positions Paris to possibly host a first round state playoff game. But the Eagles have to take care of business against Booneville and at Danville in the final two weeks of the regular season.
So Eagles fans, take the weekend and enjoy your team’s latest victory at Perryville and the undefeated, 8-0 start for this historic season in the Paris football program. Enjoy the win, and watch for Resident Press on Sunday evening for a preview of perhaps the biggest game in Paris football history. But for now, take a breath, and enjoy the win!
Photos from the Eagles game at Perryville will be available on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports on Saturday afternoon.
Have a great weekend Paris fans! Your team is undefeated through eight weeks of the high school football season!