HOUND DOGS WIN, STAY ALIVE IN EISL
By Todd Vinyard
The reason Tupelo's Hound Dogs have rallied from a stinky five game losing streak to in the hunt for the Eastern Indoor Soccer League playoff spot has been under the nose of everyone.
The head coach of the Hound Dogs, who had served as Soccer Director at the Tupelo Department of Parks and recreation for over two years before becoming the head dog of the towns pro soccer team, receives credit from players for the turnaround.
His team stayed in the EISL playoff mix with a 19-11 win over Savannah Friday night before 1,207 fans at the Tupelo Coliseum. Huntsville beat Columbus, Ga. 16-14 Friday night. The Hound Dogs have beaten every team in the league. Tupelo is tied at 35 points with Huntsville for the final playoff spot. The EISL playoffs will begin Wednesday in Lafayette, La. Huntsville and Tupelo meet tonight in Huntsville to decide the final spot.
In the early months of the season it didn't look like the Hound Dogs would be this close to post season. Tupelo was in dire straits when two starters Brian Evans and Bill Hamilton went down with season ending knee injuries. Graham made two wise choices to replace them. Diego Lopez and Mark Tracy added the scoring punch Tupelo lacked. Tracy had two goals Friday in the victory over Savannah.
"He always listened to us for input," Midfielder/Goalkeeper Steve Scott said. "His way wasn't the only way and that helped us become closer as a team."
Part of becoming a closer team was bowling outings. One including winning a charity bowl tournament. The team kept the trophy and used as a good luck charm.
"Where ever we went we took it," Graham said. "You have to keep things fun or they get stale."
The trophy helped. So did the man who had been there all along - Jimmy Graham.