By Austin Bishop
The Webster Progress-Times
In Junior Graham’s 14 seasons as a head football coach, his teams have won at least nine games in a season an amazing 12 times and have never missed the playoffs. If his Eupora High School Eagles take a road win over homestanding Baldwyn in the MHSAA Class 2A State Football Playoffs on Friday it will be the 10th time one of his teams has won at least 10 games.
But despite all of that success and an amazing 14-year record of 151-30, it is a six-win team he thought of first when pondering about all of the players and teams who contributed to him picking up his 150th career victory two weeks ago when the Eagles beat South Delta 34-14 in the first round of the playoffs.
“I would say that was the best coaching job we have ever done as a staff,” Graham said of the 2011 squad that went 6-5. “That team worked hard and got the most out of what they had. They fought and we coached them up every week and took them as far as we could.”
Graham served as an assistant for seven years at Weir under legendary coach Joe Gant, picking up three state championships during that time.
He then went 82-11 in seven seasons as head coach at Weir, winning the MHSAA Class 1A State Championship in 2003 as the Lions went a perfect 15-0 and playing for state titles in 2002 and 2004. Those three teams went an amazing 33-2.
The Eagles went 11-1 in his first year as head coach at Eupora in 2007 and he is currently 69-19 in his seventh season at EHS. The Eagles played for the 2A state title last season, finishing the year at 14-2.
“I wouldn’t dare to try and start listing names,” Graham said. “There have been so many players, coaches, administrators, friends and fans that have been a part of this. It’s just been such an honor and a joy.”
Graham, a graduate of Ethel High School, picked up his first career win when Weir beat East Webster 41-8 in 2000. His 50th victory came against Smithville when the Lions won 39-15 in 2004. The Eagles of Eupora gave him his 100th win with a 15-8 triumph over Bruce in 2008.
“We may not have had a lot of players who played Division I, Division II or even junior college, but they were hard workers and good people who came together to form a team,” he said. “They were just very, very good high school football players. And that’s what you have to have.”
The now 48-year-old Graham was an assistant coach at Winona for two years before joining Gant at Weir. His very first head coaching job came in 1989 when he was the basketball coach at Duck Hill High School.
2000 Weir 11-2
2001 Weir 9-3
2002 Weir 14-1
2003 Weir 15-0
2004 Weir 14-1
2005 Weir 9-3
2006 Weir 10-2
2007 Eupora 11-1
2008 Eupora 11-3
2009 Eupora 10-2
2010 Eupora 8-4
2011 Eupora 6-5
2012 Eupora 14-2
2013 Eupora 9-2
Worth Noting: Weir won the Class 1A state championship in 2003 and played for the title in 2002 and 2004. Eupora played for the 2A state title in 2013. Graham was part of three Class 1A championship teams as an assistant under Joe Gant at Weir.