As things turned out, Paris was the biggest loser because of Cedarville having to forfeit a 3A-4 win against Atkins.
Paris could have had the No. 3 seed from the conference but fell all the way to No. 5 and will play at Smackover on Friday in the first round of the state playoffs. Atkins lost to Cedarville on the field in the conference opener, but was credited 13 points in the tiebreaker system when Cedarville had to forfeit for using an ineligible player.
Paris would have been No. 3 in a tie with Lavaca because of head-to-head competition, but with Atkins credited with a win, Lavaca got the edge in points in the three-way tie for third and will host the playoff game.
“It goes down as a 2-0 win for Atkins but they get 13 points for it,” Paris coach Bryan Hutson said. “I’m not sure how that math works, but that is how it is. We knew we could be in that situation; we just got beat by Atkins in the last seconds of the game and then we only beat Danville by one point. Those two games ended up costing us.”
Still, most didn’t expect Paris (6-3-1, 4-3) to even make the playoffs this year with only two of 22 starters returning. Making matters worse, Paris had a slew of injuries late in the season.
“We moved five freshman up and they were all playing,” Hutson said. “We were moving guys into different positions and doing all kinds of things. My whole starting secondary was banged up by the end of the game.”
Paris led Lamar 21-7 at one point but lost 33-21.
Grant Hutson had an interception, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble, two long punt returns and seven tackles in the first half before being leaving the field with a concussion. Kaleb Owens, a wingback, was forced into the tailback spot because of injury and ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
“I’ve been proud of these guys’ effort all year,” Hutson said. “They have been a fun group to coach. We’ve got a long bus ride and play a really good team, but we’ll just give it our best shot.”