Business as usual this week for Eagles

</element><element id="paragraph-1" type="body"><![CDATA[There are a couple of words circulating around the Eldorado football program right now, and they rhyme with "playoff eligible."

But as he prepares his team for a week eight clash with Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn, Eldorado coach Brandon Hampton has taken the first word of that phrase out of the equation.

"The approach we've taken is that we're not saying that 'p-word' any more. We've got to worry about taking care of business on the field," Hampton said.

As it stands, the Eagles have that "unnamed" status by virtue of a 44-16 thrashing of Vienna last week, putting them at 5-2 on the season. Playing in a ten-team conference where all games effectively put playoff points on a team's record each week, the Eagles appear likely to eclipse the cutoff point for 5-win teams that made last year's postseason.

Of course, a six (or for that matter, seven) win team takes the "e-word" out of the mix automatically - and that's the path Hampton wants his players to pursue on Senior Night at Boz Adams Field.

The Eagles will find a tough opponent to do that against, though, in the Red Devils. They enter the contest having clinched a post-season berth, on the strength of six straight wins.

"They're a very hot team," Hampton said. "They had the misfortune of opening with a Chester team that was new to the conference and they weren't that familiar with, and still held them close," he noted of an opening week 18-14 S-V-W-W loss to the Yellow Jackets.

"They'll be telling their kids that if they win out, they can win the conference, and that they're playing for a home playoff game" Hampton added. "And they're very talented."

Sesser-Valier is led by quarterback Dawson Verhines, who Hampton called a great athlete, capable of winning with his arm or his legs, on defense, and in the kicking game.

Verhines also has a solid trio of backs in Curtis Edwards, Shane Bennett and Greg Jenkins.

Hampton said the most intriguing matchup, though, may be a strength-vs-strength battle.

"They've got three big defensive linemen that are key to their ability to stop people, and I think that'll pose a challenge for us, because they really key up on stopping the run&#8230;but then again, our offensive line has been our strength all year. So, we'll find out which of those two is best on Friday."

The Red Devils will likely try - as many teams have and failed - to gang up on Caid Griffin. But the senior fullback continues to plug along gamely, notching his sixth 100-yard game in seven tries (and fourth in a row) last week against Vienna.

However, Eldorado also got a big lift from Nick Stewart and Deshawn Turner - effective change-of-pace backs from Griffin's plow-ahead, smashmouth style.

Stewart had his first 100-yard effort of the season last week, with 158 yards on 13 carries. Turner finished two yards shy of his season best of 73 yards against Fairfield, but that total was aided largely by one 63-yard dash. Last Friday's work was more substantial, as Turner saw a season high 12 carries, and scored his second touchdown of the year.

"Those two are talented players, and they really stepped up last week," Hampton said. "We kind of have a system where we take what the defense gives us, and they played a big part last week in hitting those holes."

In more good news, while Dakota Prather and Joel Boulds will miss this Friday's action, the Eagles will re-gain starting center Shay Flowers, with Brian Ward and Garth Cloonen getting back closer to 100%.

Aside from offensive impact, expect those players to be part of a defense that's hitting its stride, and proving capable of adjusting as the season moves on.

"They did a great job last week of hanging in there," said Hampton. "After those first two drives, when they scored, we made some adjustments, and most importantly, we forced turnovers. Right now, we're up 23-13 in takeaways on the season, and 39-12 in plays over 15 yards&#8230;when you take the ball away and don't give up big plays, you're doing things the right way."