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Football: Turnaround aiming Eagles toward playoffs

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Football: Turnaround aiming Eagles toward playoffs

  1. 1. Football: Turnaround aiming Eagles toward playoffs gallery_thumbnails_show|article-gallery-3977808|article-gallery-3977808|0 gallery_overlay_open|article-gallery-3977808|article-gallery-3977808|0 gallery_overlay_open_thumbs|article-gallery-3977808|article-gallery-3977808|0 Atascocita Head Coach Craig Stump Photo: Jerry Baker Atascocita defensive tackle Joseph Salazar, No. 37, puts pressure on the Klein Forest senior quarterback during a recent District 13-5A battle. Photo: Jerry Baker Atascocita wide receiver Greg Campbell, right, puts a stiff arm on a Klein Forest defender during a recent district game. Photo: Jerry Baker Atascocita quarterback Grant Ashcraft looks for a receiver against Klein Forest. Photo: Jerry Baker Football: Turnaround aiming Eagles toward playoffs Back to Gallery gallery_thumbs_close|article-gallery-3977808|article-gallery-3977808|0 gallery_overlay_close|article-gallery-3977808|article-gallery-3977808|0 The Atascocita Eagles' turnaround under first-year coach Craig Stump could include a playoff berth this season.
  2. 2. Despite playing in a loaded District 13-5A, the Eagles are tied for fourth after last week's win over Klein Forest, and they can double their overall win total from the last two years combined this week. They're 5-2 overall and 3-2 in 13-5A - with three big games remaining. "This district has been proven that anybody can beat anybody," Stump said. "We talk to our guys all the time about not getting into looking at somebody's record or what they did last week, and record- watching and scoreboard-watching. We don't do that because the team we beat last week beat Dekaney. Atascocita Mascot: Eagles Coach: Craig Stump, first season Assistants: Al Celaya, defensive coordinator; Ron Stump, offensive coordinator 2011: 3-7 overall, 1-5 in District 14-5A 2012: District 13-5A member with Kingwood, Klein, Klein Oak, Klein Collins, Klein Forest, Spring, Westfield and Dekaney. Next up: The Eagles play Kingwood at 7 p.m. on Friday at Turner Stadium. Key players: RB Elijah Merchant, WR Greg Campbell, RB/WR Jai Edwards, S John Blow, OLB Darian Candler "That puts us at 3-2, and I don't know how it's going to shake out, but if you can get five wins in district you guarantee yourself a playoff spot." The Eagles are tied with Dekaney for fourth, a half-game behind Klein (4-2). Westfield is 5-0 in district and Klein Collins is 5-1. Atascocita lost to Westfield but beat Klein 31-21 in the district opener. That could prove to be the biggest win if tiebreakers become involved. "That was certainly a big win, and they're all big, and this weekend with Kingwood, if we want to make the playoffs, it's one that we've got to win as well," Stump said. Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker, but if a three-way tie occurs, positive and negative points could come into play under the district's plan.
  3. 3. "There could be four teams tied," Stump said. "Who knows? "I think Westfield probably won't get beat. They're too strong on defense. But other than that, you don't know what could happen." Stump is hoping a big win over rival Kingwood happens Friday at Turner Stadium. The Mustangs are 2-3 in district, one game behind Atascocita and Dekaney, and they've lost three straight, but they've played every team tight, including Klein Collins (38-35) and Dekaney (41-35). "They've got a real fast running back (Kade Harrington) ... and if he gets loose he'll outrun everybody," Stump said. "They play hard and they've been in every game, they've just been unfortunate. "I'm sure it'll be a big crowd, and the big challenge is to try to keep the kids under control and working hard and practicing and not trying to do too much." Quarterback Grant Ashcraft was on point in the Eagles' 35-32 win over Klein Forest, completing 19 of 21 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception. He's close to 70 percent completions on the season and has 14 TD passes to only four picks. "He's done a real good job all year," Stump said. "He's getting better and better at understanding what I'm thinking when I call a play, and understanding where he needs to go pre-snap ..." Wide receiver Greg Campbell keeps improving, too. The junior caught eight passes for 83 yards and two scores and ran for a 51-yard touchdown against Klein Forest. He has eight TD receptions on the year. "He's getting real comfortable with what he's doing and learning every day how to run routes and how to do different things, and people have been playing him man coverage and he's real hard to tackle when he gets the ball in his hand," Stump said. "He can take a small play and turn it into a big gain." Now the Eagles just need Elijah Merchant to get back to gaining big chunks of yards. With the senior again slowed by injuries, they've yet to have a player top 100 yards rushing in a game this season. His 73-yard, two-score effort in a 49-48 win over Spring is the closest anyone's come. "He's as close to 100 percent as he's going to be," Stump said. "But he can still take it and go." If he does go big down the stretch, it could be the extra push the Eagles need to secure their playoff spot. "That'd be real big," Stump said. "If we can run the ball effectively that just helps everything." Jason McDaniel is a freelance writer and can be reached at rocket_3@hotmail.com. http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/humble-sports/article/Football-Turnaround-aiming-Eagles-towa
  4. 4. rd-playoffs-3977808.php