High school football fans could feel the excitement going into Friday’s Class 3A showdown game at Atkins between an undefeated Paris Eagles team and another undefeated team in conference, the 3-0 Atkins Red Devils. Statewide media, including Hooten’s Arkansas Football, Max Preps, and several of the Little Rock television outlets were in Atkins on Friday night to cover the game. Perhaps quietly, some were questioning the strength of schedule for Paris going into Friday’s game with Atkins. For many, the road test at Atkins would be an indicator of how good Paris really is, and not only could Paris win at Atkins, but would the Eagles be as dominant against the Red Devils as they have been against other opponents so far this season. So for many of the media and fans in attendance, this was their first look at the undefeated Paris Eagles.
What they saw was a very focused and motivated Paris Eagles team that came out passing, scoring on the first play of its first offensive possession. And with that score, Paris never looked back. The Eagles scored 21 unanswered points in both the first and second quarters to lead at halftime 42-0. The Paris defense, as it has all season, flew from sideline to sideline, containing the Atkins running backs and playing blanket coverage on Red Devils receivers. The stifling Eagles defense virtually shut down the Atkins offense until Paris pulled its starters at the beginning of the third quarter.
Undoubtedly, with the dominant win, Paris will now continue to receive increased coverage from the media. In fact, media coverage will most likely increase next week with another big conference match-up in Perryville that will have playoff implications.
The head-to-head win over Atkins moves Paris into sole possession of first place after week seven of the high school football season. Paris (7-0, 3-0) will be on the road again next week for another 3A-4 conference monster match-up against the Perryville Mustangs. Perryville’s only conference loss of the season was against Atkins. Perryville is in a must-win situation next week if the Mustangs are to position themselves to compete for the conference title.
Results of games played Friday around the conference include:
Paris 42, Atkins 6
Perryville 21, Mayflower 0
As of publication time of this story, there was no score reported for the Two Rivers versus Danville game.
Booneville, due to the cancellation by Little Rock Baptist Prep, played a non-conference game at Stigler, Oklahoma on Thursday. For the second time, the Bearcats lost to a non-conference opponent that was scheduled on short notice. Booneville lost to Stigler by a score of 56-14. The Bearcats had previously lost another non-conference game to Warren that was scheduled late due to the cancellation by a conference opponent.
The Class 3A-4 conference standings after Friday’s games are now:
Booneville, who has had the opportunity to play just one conference game due to two teams who have cancelled games with the Bearcats, finds itself in the position of being two games down in the wins column in conference. Booneville is 1-0 in conference, but the cancellations by their opponents have hurt the Bearcats. Danville and Little Rock Baptist Prep cancelled games with Booneville. Both Baptist Prep and Danville are at or near the bottom of the standings. As of the date of this story, Booneville is scheduled to play Atkins next week, and that will be a critical game for the Bearcats to possibly get another conference win and give Atkins its second conference loss. Resident Press will have more on this in Sunday afternoon’s preview of the Eagles game next week at Perryville.
For the sixth game this season, Paris was able to play a shortened game while resting its starters and giving reserve players significant playing time. So the Eagles should be in good shape physically when they travel to Perryville next week. The game with the Mustangs will be another test for the Paris defense. Perryville has a very good offense as evidenced by scoring 44 points in their game against Atkins.
Paris has become a team with a balanced offense that poses trouble for opposing teams. The running back tandem of Duke Walker and Ely Fore have been a force in the Eagles ground game. Running behind an offensive line that has been impressive all season, the two running backs have ran with both a physical, downhill style, but can also break through the opposing defenses for long runs. Quarterback Chase Watts has steadily improved all season and has become a legitimate dual threat quarterback who can throw the football and take off and run, breaking containment for big gains. Paris receivers Blake Martines and Keller Keen have blazing speed and are a threat to go all the way on any pass reception. The balanced attack leaves opposing defenses having to decide what they choose to stop: the potent running game, or the lethal passing attack?
Resident Press will have more analysis on the Eagles big win at Atkins in Sunday afternoon’s edition. But for now, the Paris Eagles are 7-0 overall, and 3-0 in conference, and are the leaders in the 3A-4 conference. It was a great night for high school football, and for Paris fans, the win at Atkins may have been one of the biggest wins in the program’s history.
Look for more photos of the Eagles game at Atkins on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports on Sunday afternoon. And stay with Resident Press for the most complete coverage of Paris Eagles and River Valley football action!