EUPORA – The Eupora High School football game hopes it's not a complete déjà vu all over again in 2010.
After a convincing first round road win, the Eagles will be traveling to West Bolivar next weekend to face the same school that ended their season in the same place.
West Bolivar defeated West Tallahatchie 52-0 in its first round playoff action.
Eupora racked up 298 yards on the ground to win its fourth straight first round playoff game against Walnut 26-13 Friday night.
“That’s only way we can be successful,” Eagles head coach Junior Graham said.
The Eagles defense kept Walnut star tailback Shaquille Perry way under his season average but the senior, who has received offers from Southern Miss, Memphis and South Alabama, finished with a game-high 135 yards on 23 carries and the Wildcats only two touchdowns of the night.
“It has always been my philosophy – if you’re a D-I guy (then) he’s going to find ways to get into the end zone,” Graham said. “Physically that guy is a player now. I thought our guys did a good job of keeping them in check.”
Eupora got rushing touchdowns from three different players tonight as Deshawn Starks, Steadman Rice and Jamal Roby each found the end zone for the Eagles (8-3). Starks finished Friday night with 129 yards on 18 carries with fullback Vandy Smith piling on 81 yards on 11 carries.
“We don’t have that one guy like they’ve got,” Graham said. “Each one of our guys brings something to the table. If Steadman gets healthier every snap and we’re excited about getting him back.”
After Walnut took a 13-12 lead silencing the Eupora crowd, the Eagles immediately answered with a seven-play drive that ended with Starks finding the end zone from 5 yards out. Once the road Wildcats (8-4) were in comeback mode, the Eupora defense made life extremely difficult for Walnut quarterback Cody Wells as the senior completed just 11-of-25 passes for 80 yards and had a interception returned 45 yards by Eupora defensive back Tyree Kirkwood for the Eagles second score of the game.
Last year Eupora also finished second in the region but went to West Bolivar (10-2) in the second round of the playoffs to lose 22-11. Graham told his team after Friday night’s win, making that two-hour trip up north to play the Region 4 champion is exactly where they want to be.
“At this point, you’re going to have to beat good people,” Graham said. “West Bolivar is going to be a tremendous chore for us. Last year our seniors didn’t really know and this time they know how they’re going to play and how fast they are.”