Hey Paris fans! When was the last time your football team started a season undefeated at 3-0? Well, you may get different answers to that question depending on who you ask. But one thing is certain, the Paris Eagles of 2020 have started the season undefeated by winning all of their non-conference games. Paris defeated the Tigers at West Fork by a score of 20-7 on Friday night. Paris (3-0, 0-0) will now have next week off and will turn their sights to the opening of the conference season on September 25 against Mayflower.
West Fork, a much improved program that has rebuilt its program featuring a punishing and very physical running attack, provided the best contest so far in the first month of the season for the Eagles. The Paris defense played hard and matched the physicality of the West Fork offense. In addition to playing tough football along both sides of the line of scrimmage, the Paris linebackers were prepared for the defensive reads to stop the West Fork flexbone offense. The Paris defensive line spent much of the night in the West Fork backfield, holding the Tigers’ runners to small gains. Paris was also opportunistic on defense, creating turnovers and advancing a fumble for big yardage that set up a Paris touchdown.
The tandem running backs of senior Ely Fore and junior Duke Walker ran with a tough downhill style that was efficient and ripped the Tigers defense for both long runs and critical short-yardage rushing that kept the Paris offense moving all night. Perhaps most impressive was the Eagles ability to overcome a rash of penalties, especially in the first half where the Eagles were flagged 15 times for over 100 yards, while West Fork was flagged just once for five yards. As frustrating as this was for the players and their fans, the team kept their focus and bounced back from seemingly every set back to pick up lost yardage and to keep drives alive.
The success of the Paris ground game took the pressure off of its passing game. Paris junior quarterback Chase Watts effectively scrambled and ran the ball for key big plays throughout the game. On the goal line, Watts was able to tuck himself behind the big Paris offensive line and push himself into the end zone on quarterback sneaks. It appears that any concerns the Paris coaching staff may have had with the offensive and defensive lines may have been eliminated Friday night in West Fork. Paris played physical football against a much-improved and physical West Fork team.
It also appears that Paris played another game without any players leaving the game with injuries. This is great news for the Eagles. The bye week is upon them, and Paris has the opportunity to rest, work on correcting issues that have surfaced during the first three weeks of the season, and begin game planning for the Mayflower Eagles.
The non-conference portion of the schedule has been fun and has been a chance for the Eagles to make-up preparation time that was missed in the spring and summer months. On paper, the Eagles non-conference schedule has not been as challenging as some may have wanted to see, but the schedule has given the Paris players valuable playing time, including reserve players who received a lot of playing time last week against Westside. All of this could prove to be valuable down the line as conference teams fine tune their games during the non-conference games and hope to be healthy when conference season rolls around.
But just as it did last night, the Paris schedule will get progressively tougher from week to week. The good news is that Paris is also getting progressively better each week, and this week, the Eagles can feel good about themselves for going on the road and defeating a hard-nosed football team. Paris did it by beating West Fork at its own game. The toughness that the Eagles showed is what Paris coach Tyler Clark wanted to see as the Eagles move into conference play.
I spoke with Coach Clark on the field immediately after the game ended. When we met on the field, I congratulated him on being 3-0. The Eagles coach said, “It’s nice man! We still have a lot of work to do, but that’s never going to change. We have a lot of work to do, but it is certainly nice to be 3-0 going into conference play. They played really well. We challenged them all week and they responded to the challenge. I am really proud of them.”
Looking ahead to the Eagles next game, the Mayflower Eagles traveled to Hot Springs on Friday night and lost to Fountain Lake by a score of 35-7. Mayflower is now 0-3 on the season having lost to Central Arkansas Christian, Southside Batesville, and now Fountain Lake.
Due to Paris being off next week, Resident Press will not have a preview article out this Sunday. But RP will have a preview of the Eagles game with Mayflower on Sunday, September 20. So watch for this story as RP previews Paris’s first conference game of 2020.
More exciting photos from the West Fork game will be posted on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports on Sunday. Watch for these and other information on the Eagles throughout the season.
It was a great night in Northwest Arkansas to see a high school football game. And Paris fans, give yourselves a round of applause for showing up in big numbers and rooting the Eagles on to victory in West Fork! Your team is now 3-0 and will begin its quest to return to the state playoffs for the first time since 2017 when it returns home on September 25 to play its first conference game. Until then, enjoy the win and the 3-0 start, and look for Resident Press on Sunday, September 20 for a preview of Paris and the Mayflower Eagles!