By Robbie Robertson
Webster Progress Times
Aug. 11 J.Z. George
Aug. 18 Water Valley
Aug. 25 Newton
Sept. 2 French Camp
Sept. 8 at West Tallahatchie
Sept. 15 at Choctaw County
Sept. 22 Charleston
Sept. 29 East Webster*
Oct. 6 at Winona*
Oct. 13 Leflore County*
Oct. 20 Open
Oct. 27 at Calhoun City*
After a 5-6 season and missing the playoffs, an older, experienced Eupora group is poised to make a run in Class 2A.
That’s one of the reasons that Stephen Edwards loaded the Eupora schedule with a gaggle of talented teams.
“We will be an older team and I think we will be the underdog in most games and that gives you a little extra motivation,” Edwards said. “Our division has played for the state championship the last five years and we want to be there. We didn’t make the playoffs last year and that has left a bad taste in our mouths. I think we are good enough to make a run but we have to go out there and prove it.”
The Eagles will return eight starters on defense and seven on offense. They will open the season with a scrimmage with J.Z. George on Aug. 11 on what will be Meet The Eagles night.
“We have played them the last few years,” Edwards said. “That will be Meet the Eagles night and we will play them about a half and then play the JV teams for a half. They have some good skill guys. I think they might be a little young but they are always able to run.”
In their classic game on Aug. 18, the Eagles will host Water Valley, a team they beat 42-27 last year.
“They are a 3A school so we will get our water tested early,” Edwards said. “They are kind of like us. They had some tough luck last year and some things that didn’t go their way. They are always big and athletic and a quality team.”
On Aug. 25, the Eagles will host Newton, who is moving to North 2A after years in South 2A. Newton was 7-4 last year and finished second in 5-2A.
“That’s a new game for us,” Edwards said. “I know they are going to be really athletic. They moved to North 2A and will be one of the top teams in that division. We have an older group and I want competition and I believe we will get it there. That’s a good challenge and that’s what we like.”
Then on Sept. 2, the Eagles will finish off a three-game home stretch with 1A French Camp, a team they beat 40-7 last year.
“You don’t ever know what you are getting with them,” Edwards said. “Coach (Nathan) Wright does a great job with them. They had a really good running back last year who was a ninth grader and I think they are moving him to quarterback.”
On Sept. 8, the Eagles will hit the road for the first time when they travel to West Tallahatchie, who was 9-3 last year.
“I don’t know a lot about them but I know they will be athletic,” Edwards said. “They are a good basketball school and will have speed and be athletic. I know Eupora played them a couple of years ago and lost a close 42-41 game.”
After West Tallahatchie, the Eagles will travel to Choctaw County. Last year, Choctaw County took a tight 35-34 win over Eupora.
“This is the second 3A school on our schedule and a good rivalry game for us,” Edwards said. “Their former coach, Adam Dillinger, is our offensive coordinator and it will be a homecoming for him. He’s a smart guy and we are excited about having him on board.”
The Eagles will then round out non-division play against Class 3A runners-up Charleston.
“A lot of folks said I was crazy for scheduling that one,” Edwards said. “I think competition makes you better. They played for the 3A state championship the last three years and have lost all three in really close games. We better strap our chinstraps on. They are a football school and will be big and athletic.
“For our league, that’s about as good of a non-division schedule as you are going to play and I welcome that. I think it gets us better. They don’t give out trophies for going undefeated in your non-division play.”
Then on Sept. 29, the Eagles will host arch rival East Webster in hopes of snapping a three-game losing streak against the Wolverines. Last year, East Webster shut out Eupora 27-0 to end the Eagles season and send them home with a losing record.
“They have won three years in a row and before that Eupora won three years in a row,” Edwards said. “It’s a good rivalry game. I know they will play hard and be well coached. We should be ready by the time we play them. But that’s a big game for both teams.”
The Eagles will open October with a short road trip to Winona, a team that beat the Eagles 13-12 last year in the last minute of the game.
“That was a tough loss,” Edwards said. “They have great athletes and will probably be the fastest team in our division. I was offensive coordinator there for a year and know how well coached they are going to be.”
On Oct. 13, the Eagles will host Leflore County for Senior night.
“They are kind of an unknown,” Edwards said. “They are new to the division so I don’t really know a lot about them. We will just have to wait and see what they have.”
The Eagles have an open date on Oct. 20.
“I like having the open date but we may try to fill it,” Edwards said. “There are a couple of teams that cancelled their season and we may try to see who they are playing that week. But if we don’t play, it won’t bother me.”
Then the Eagles will finish up the regular season with defending Class 2A champions Calhoun City, a team that beat them 44-20 last year.
“They are defending state champions and deserve to be No. 1 in the state,” Edwards said. “They have a good bit of talent coming back. Until somebody knocks them off, they deserve to be kind of the hill. We have to play over there and that will be tough. They always have a good crowd.”