Eagles hit road to face upstart East Union in playoffs

By Austin Bishop

The Webster Progress-Times

 

He may not be quite ready to join the East Union booster club, but veteran Eupora High School head football coach Junior Graham is certainly impressed with how quickly the school has built a winning football program.

“It’s phenomenal for them to be in the position they are in,” Graham said of the Urchins, who knocked of top-seeded H.W. Byers in the first round of the playoffs last week. “It says a lot about their staff. You are sitting here just two years into a program and you are already having that kind of success. It’s just phenomenal.”

Eupora will be traveling north to take on East Union at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville on Friday night at 7.

“Their coach told me that they are just about to start working on their field,” he said. “Right now they play most of their games at a city park.”

Eupora, now 8-2 on the season, earned its spot in the second round of the MHSAA Class 2A State Football playoffs with a solid 34-14 win over visiting South Delta on Friday night.

“We were pretty efficient in the first half,” Graham said of his Eagles, who led 20-0 at the half. “We had to end two of the drives with field goals, but it was good for our kicker.” Justin Lewis hit on field goals of 22 and 36 yards for the Eagles and was also good on all four of his extra point attempts.

“We went through the first half and didn’t have a turnover and never punted in the ball game,” Graham said. “Because of the style of defense they played, we made some big plays on them in the run game.”

Lamontae Salley rushed for 99 yards on 14 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the Eagles, while Trey Pittman hit on 9-of-16 passes for 164 yards and two more scores.

“We really were pretty balanced, which is what we like,” Graham said.

Eupora took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to the 22-yard field goal by Lewis and a 3-yard run by Salley.

The second quarter saw Lewis connect on his 36-yard field goal and Pittman hit Chance Cooper with a 21-yard scoring strike.

After South Delta cut the Eupora lead to 20-8 after three quarters of play, the Eagles responded with fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 55-yard pass from Pittman to cooper and a 9-yard run by Salley.

Cooper had two catches for 76 yards to lead EHS, while Corson Gunn had four catches for 40 yards and Tarvis Robinson, Timmy Austin and Will Bowen had one catch each.

Salley has rushed for a team-high 915 yards and 14 touchdowns on 132 carries so far this season, while Javoris Draine has 316 yards on 76 carries and Lee Starks has 27 rushes for 313 yards.

Pittman has connected on 101-of-185 passes on the season for 1,552 yards and 17 touchdowns, while tossing just five interceptions. Gunn has a team-high 35 catches for 575 yards, while Salley has caught 20 passes for 319 yards.

Tamoris Draine led the Eagles with 15 tackles against South Delta, while Starks and Victor Goldman posted nine each. Jalen Embry and Starks each intercepted a pass for the winners in the game, while Beau Smith recovered a fumble.