By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
At a school with an enrollment of 100 students in grades 9-12, the Tupelo Christian Prep football program hoped to just be competitive in its first couple of seasons.
Now, in their fourth season of varsity football, a season after winning the North Mississippi Independent Conference championship, the Eagles expect to win every Friday night.
“We started out as any new program does: You hope to be competitive,” said TCPS head coach Aubrey Boren, who is in third year at the helm. “Now, we’ve developed into a program that expects to win on Friday night.”
Winners of 15 games in the past three seasons – which includes games played as a member of the Mississippi Private School Association (now known as the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools) – the Eagles are in prime position to successfully defend their Independent Conference crown.
The school will be eligible to be assigned to an MHSAA division next year and can aim to make the Class 1A playoffs.
TCPS is 3-0 in its conference (5-4 overall) entering tonight’s league game with New Site (0-8, 0-2) in Marietta. If Houlka loses to H.W. Byers tonight, then the Eagles clinch the conference title.
The Eagles can still win the championship without any help if they win tonight and then defeat Houlka next Thursday in Okolona.
“Two wins would definitely secure it,” Boren said.
Pieces coming together
The TCPS head man has got to feel good about his football team. Boren has a top-notch quarterback in senior Will Cockrell, who has tall targets to throw to in Jager Livingston (6-3) and Clint McGraw (6-2).
Dallas Finley is also a playmaker on offense, leading the team in rushing with 329 yards and scoring eight touchdowns running and receiving, and Ron Lavigne is second in rushing with 291 yards and has scored five TDs in all.
There’s also a work in progress in 6-foot-6, 205-pound Justin Posey, who’s in his first season of playing football.
“He’s got a frame, so if there’s anyone looking for a big kid who has potential …,” Boren said about the possibility of any college programs looking at Posey. “He’s just raw.”
Who isn’t raw is Trevor Stevens. The 6-5, 240-pound offensive left tackle and defensive end is a force on both sides of the ball.
“He wreaks havoc on defense and is a big part of our protection,” Boren said. “I think he’ll be playing after high school. He’s a junior for us.”
Joining Stevens in the trenches are seniors Tucker Sample and Weston Webb.
“Our seniors have definitely been leaders for us,” Boren said.
With the seniors leading the way, the sophomore class is excelling.
“We got a really strong sophomore class,” Boren said.
Sophomore outside linebacker Andrew Soper leads the team in tackles (92) while fellow classmate Zachary Tybor, a defensive back, leads the team in interceptions (four).
Lavigne – who, as a junior, is second on the team in tackles (66) – and Cockrell head up the inside linebacker spots.
“We’ve progressed year to year in some things,” said Boren, “and now the defense is learning how important it is to get off the field and give the offense the ball in good field position.
“They are now getting to take that personal.”
Come next Thursday night, the 28 Eagle players will hope to leave the Okolona High field North Mississippi Independent Conference champions for the second straight year.
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or firstname.lastname@example.org.