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Eupora's special teams leads to great beginning

September 12, 2012

Lazerick Davis is a running back for the undefeated Eupora Eagles after four games. (SDN file photo)

EUPORA – Junior Graham has been a head coach for 24 years, and in those 24 seasons he has seen several teams start at 4-0.

This year he has his Eupora Eagles off to that record.

The Class 2A Eagles have outscored their opponents 120-45 and have not allowed more than 13 points in a single game.

Eupora's special teams is one of the main reasons it has been able to get off to a hot start.

"I have never had a team that generated 35 points off of special teams," Graham said. "It's really a different ballgame if special teams didn't make a difference in the game."

The Eagles opened the season with a 20-10 win at French Camp. They turned around and beat defending Class A champion Noxapater 37-12 at home, then traveled to Class 3A opponent Winona in week three and snuck out a 22-13 victory.

Last Thursday night Eupora hosted West Oktibbeha who came into the game 2-0. A good second half defense led the Eagles to a 41-10 win and a 4-0 start.

"We knew we would have to get some breaks," Graham said. "We had to go to French Camp and our kids have never played at French Camp before. We had never beaten Winona at Winona. We knew those were definitely going to be some challenges.

"You throw in the mix of playing the defending A champions early in the season with a lot of their starters coming back. We played three A schools and a 3A school, but those A teams have really good teams."

Graham and the players had high expectations going into the season, but the fact that they are undefeated through four games is something they didn't think was going to happen.

"That was our goal, but as far as playing four people we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what we were going to be, no," Graham said.

This Friday night the Eagles play host to Calhoun City and a shot at 5-0. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

The talk around Eupora's squad has not been its start.

"To be honest, we don't put a lot of emphasis on being undefeated," Graham said. "We haven't mentioned not one time this week. We take it one game at a time. To us now, the most important game we are going to play all year is Calhoun City."

Eupora has a great deal of leadership from its senior class including wide receiver and defensive back Derrick Jones. They have also got some vocal leadership from linebacker Markelle Eichelberger.

"I am a firm believer that you're only good as your seniors," Graham said. "Our seniors have demonstrated a tremendous work ethic throughout the course of the spring, summer and so far this fall. The other night when things were not going very well for us on the defensive side of the ball, we had a senior Markelle Eichelberger, and he was kind of the glue out there for us. He stayed positive and kept the guys going. That is what we expect out of those seniors."

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