Area preview: Eagles take flight to meet the Panthers

Stephen Edwards

Nathan Wright

Staff Writer

Two area teams go head to head Friday night and come into the football game experiencing different emotions from the week before.

Eupora and French Camp Academy each enter Friday night’s game with 1-1 records, but the Eagles are the ones that are feeling confidence. After a rough opening night and 34-8 defeat to Water Valley two weeks ago, the were able to dominate Newton 34-18 last week.

Stephen Edwards, the head coach of Eupora, was excited about the team’s ability to bounce back, but he wasn’t as excited about how the Eagles finished the game as they held a 27-6 lead going into the final quarter before Newton slimmed the disadvantage a bit.

“I thought that we came out strong and had good effort early, but we’ve got to learn how to put people away,” Edwards said. “We left some points out there, but our kids are learning every week and we were excited to get the first win.”

For the Panthers, they are coming off a 25-0 game against fellow area team Starkville Academy in which they couldn’t get anything going offensively. Quarterback Holman Edwards was held in check and the rest of the unit couldn’t find its footing.

French Camp coach Nathan Wright is hoping that the Panthers continue to improve in the early going against a tough schedule before Class A, Region 3 play begins next week. Eupora is the next challenge at home this weekend.

“Being a Eupora native, I know how tough they are every single year and we always have a tough time matching up,” Wright said. “We always know that we’ll play some of the toughest teams on our schedule early in the year and that gets us prepared for Class 1A.”

French Camp has traditionally struggled with the Eagles losing six-straight in the series and the Panthers haven’t been able to eclipse double digits since they lost 51-21 in 2013, which is the year they won the state championship.

While looking for more success offensively this week, coach Edwards expects that could be a possibility for French Camp with Holman Edwards’ potential. The senior quarterback has thrown for 254 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games and rushed for two more scores. He’s also intercepted two passes on defense making him a tough player to game plan for this week.

“They are always a well-coached football team and their quarterback is big and can throw the ball," coach Edwards said. "He’s a good player. On defense, they’re going to run to the ball so they’re going to be a tough out for us.”

This is the third game in a row that Eupora will play on the road to begin the season and its goal is to head back home with a 2-1 record. The Eagles host West Tallahatchie next week at Eupora followed by hosting the Battle of Highway 9 and Choctaw County.

East Webster at Smithville

The Wolverines have fallen on hard times the last couple of seasons as they try to rebuild their roster under coach Ron Price.

After winning seven games a year ago and making the playoffs, East Webster has started the year off 0-2 this season and felt it let one slip away against Okolona in the 35-26 loss a week ago.

Things don’t get easier this week for the Wolverines as they travel to Smithville to take on a team that is usually tough in Class A. The Seminoles are coming off of a 25-13 victory over Class 3A opponent Hatley and are 1-1 after losing to Belmont in the opening weekend.

East Webster looks to be continuing to find some reliability at the quarterback position having seen Keevon Patterson and Gray McCarter man the position in the first two games. Patterson is 5-for-10 for 86 yards and a touchdown while McCarter is 11-of-19 for 161 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Wolverines need a good week to begin to gain some confidence as Starkville Academy comes to town next week.