A team with zero starters returning probably wasn’t the safest the choice in preseason predictions to be undefeated when nonconference play finished.
It’s exactly where Paris finds itself, though, after three weeks and a 7-7 tie with Farmington on Friday.
The 3A Eagles (2-0-1) made it to the state quarterfinals last year behind a senior-laden team with a bruising rushing game. Those players graduated. The offense remains.
"If you told me take a 7-7 tie against Farmington, I’d take it all day long," Paris coach Bryan Hutson said. "They went down and scored on their second or third play and we’re so young, we could have folded up shot. But our kids stayed in it and fought."
Farmington (2-0-1) plays in a larger classification than Paris, in 4A, and are regulars in the postseason. The Cardinals dressed about twice as many players as the Eagles and looked, early, like they would dominate.
Running back Kaleb Owens threw an interception on a halfback pass to end Paris’ first drive. Two plays later, Joshua Blew ran nearly untouched for a 21-yard score for Farmington. Penalties and a couple of turnovers got in Farmington’s way after that.
The Cardinals forced a Paris three-and-out on the Eagles’ second possession but threw their own interception on the ensuing drive. The next Farmington drive went from a potential second-and-5 to second-and-15 when a holding penalty stalled the series in Paris territory.
The final drive of the half, a 16-play series, was littered with three more penalties before the half.
Paris running back Trenton Moeller capped the Eagles’ first drive of the third quarter with the game-tying touchdown.
"I just didn’t want our kids to be shell shocked and I was kind of worried they were when they scored so quick," Hutson said. "But our young boys fought. Didn’t do a whole lot on offense, but good enough for the tie. I’ll take it."
The Eagles had a chance to win the game when they reached the Farmington 3 midway through the fourth quarter. But a fumble by quarterback David Buchanan gave the ball back to the Cardinals.
Farmington had 12 penalties for 120 yards, two turnovers and another fumble they recovered that saved a Paris drive from starting in Cardinals’ territory.
Moderate expectations or not, an unbeaten start to the season made Hutson happy.
"I don’t know what we are. I still can’t get a read of them," Hutson said. "I know they played hard. With a young team, if you can get them to go play hard and see what happens, that’s all I can ask for."