Eighth grade Eagles rolled past their opponents by a convincing 124-20 margin
NEW MADRID -- Desire, discipline, dedication and determination, capped off with a stellar defense can only mean one thing, domination. It's under this combination that the New Madrid County Central Eagles have meant disaster for any opponent who has stepped up to meet this eight grade football team on the gridiron.
The NMCC eight grade football Eagles once again are flying high after capping off their perfect season Thursday evening with a 30-6 victory over the Dexter Bearcats. This marked the fourth straight season the Eagles have gone undefeated under head coach Steve Rogers.
"We were a little leery coming into this season," said Rogers. "The boys had finished 2-3 as seventh graders. One loss was 6-0 and another ended up 8-6 so they were close losses. Needless to say we were a little uncertain on what to expect this season."
The coaches' expectations were gladly answered however as the Eagles outscored their opponents 124-20 throughout the season. The stout eight grade defense only gave up one defensive touchdown in six games as the other two scores were on a interception and kick off return.
Going 6-0 for a third straight season (4-0-1 in one season), one might be quick to think that the games came easy for this young Eagles team and in reality Rogers might agree with that.
"Really the games are easy for them because we work so hard," says Rogers. "In the winter, a lot of the kids really dedicated themselves in the weight room to become bigger, stronger, and faster.
"Our two leaders were Sam Barnett and Lorenzo Hill this season. They really got the rest of the kids going and excited about the season. We had a lot of times, around 30 kids at our summer camps, learning our offense and system so once school started practices they were ahead of the rest and ready to go.
"It's really a pleasant surprise to see how hard work and dedication will pay off."
All the work in the weight room however might go unnoticed if it weren't for the coaching staff to point them in the right direction.
"I have to give a ton of credit to our coaching staff," says Rogers. "Coach Rob Goodwin and Coach Tommy Schoemehl have been with me for a long time now. This year we got a new addition in Coach Sean McCanless who has been excellent throughout the season. It has been extremely beneficial to have two coaches on defense and offense working both the lines and back receivers."
Rogers, who took the NMCC high school football team to the state playoffs in 2001 where they finished second, approaches the eighth grade in the same fashion.
"We approach our games like we did when I was head coach of the high school team in New Madrid," said Rogers. "We scout other teams by watching film and we've even traveled to a Saturday game before to watch our opponents and it has paid off.
"It works well because our players know we are doing the best we can to get them ready for the upcoming games. In return, our players give it all they got out there to repay us for the coaches hard work."
Don't be fooled though, even with the great work ethic the team has and the great coaching staff, a team still has to have talent and New Madrid doesn't fall short there.
"We've been real fortunate in the fact that we've had great depth. Our fourth string running back could play for several teams on our schedule," said Rogers. "It works out well because our kids constantly push each other to get better. We have kids that are wanting to start and that causes players in that position to raise their level of play. It's kind of like a friendly competition and as a result we play a lot of kids.
"Don't get me wrong though. We've been blessed by the fact that we have not sustained a major injury in the four years that I have been back down coaching the middle school. However, I do think that has a lot to do with the fact that our guys are bigger, stronger, and faster than many people we play. That's due to the conditioning, the stretching and the weight room."
With four consecutive undefeated season under their belt, Rogers still remains humble and realizes that the season is all on the kids shoulders.
"I tell them, 'boys this is your team,'" says Rogers. "We're gonna try to put you in the best position to win but your the ones who have to block and tackle. When you do that, the wins and accolades and everything will take care of itself."
Now the coaches are looking for a fifth-straight undefeated season and the expectations will be high as a talented seventh grade squad, who saw some action with the eighth graders this year, will take the helm.
"I would like to thank all the parents for coming out and supporting our games as well as our coaching staff and administration," Rogers added. "Thank you all."