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By DANNY P. SMITH
The Eupora Eagles are making the trip to Bolivar County for Class 2A playoff action for the second consecutive year.
Eupora hopes the return to Webster County tonight is a happier one.
In a battle against the West Bolivar Eagles last season, Eupora lost a 22-11 decision.
Eupora football coach Junior Graham takes a young group to Rosedale this season, but doesn't believe that will necessarily be a disadvantage. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
"With seniors and your quarterback being a senior (last season), you felt more comfortable going into a big game on the road late in the year," Graham said. "Jamal (Roby) has come a long way and he's not a sophomore any more. He's playing like a junior and we hope he continues to grow and is able to lead us on the offensive side of the ball.
"On defense, we've just got a big task ahead of us. This is back-to-back weeks we've played somebody that's really got a special guy at tailback."
Kailo Moore has piled up some eye-catching numbers for West Bolivar with 1,796 yards on 187 carries and 27 touchdowns.
After losing the first two games of the season to Clarksdale and Cleveland, West Bolivar (10-2) has won 10-straight games.
Behind Moore, Graham said West Bolivar has a similar look offensively to last year.
"They remind me of East Webster in some ways," Graham said. "They are not as big up front, but they are real athletic on the defensive side of the ball and they do a real good job of establishing the run. They can also throw the play-action pass on you."
Eupora (8-3) knocked off Walnut 26-13 in the first round of the playoffs last week and Graham liked the preparation his Eagles showed in getting ready for West Bolivar.
"We've had as good a practice this week as we've had all year," Graham said. "We were consistent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as far as our effort and execution on both sides of the ball. That's kind of what you expect with as young a squad as we've had all year. This is the time we need to become more consistent.
"We've seen some improvement, but we hope to have seen enough to where we can compete and give them a good game."
Eupora may not have just one player who matches the production of Moore, but the combination of Deshawn Starks and Vandy Smith in the backfield have accounted for 39 touchdowns. Starks has 97 attempts for 849 yards and 23 touchdowns, while Smith adds 48 carries for 329 yards and 16 scores.
If Eupora can defeat West Bolivar, it would move into a third-round matchup against Coahoma County or Baldwyn.