WAYMON FINLEY DIDN'T LIKE CONTACT … WHEN HE WAS FIVE-YEARS OLD.
Playing Little League football coming out of the Acres Homes neighborhood, you better be tough. "Honestly, I was kind of scared to get hit," he laughed. "My coach gave me the ball and told me to run against two dudes and I learned to love contact. I just kept getting tougher and tougher."
Finley got so comfortable at running back he earned his nickname, which has stuck for more than a decade. "I just ran over people at five-years old," he said. "They started calling me Bull and it stuck." Finley let his play talk for himself as an underclassman at IKE, letting the seniors take the lead in the locker room. But he's grown into the role as the team leader as a senior.
"He's got some edginess to him, now," Coach Eric Jackson said. "Some kids are born leaders, but he's grown into the role. Now he's very vocal and gets on his teammates when he needs to. They follow him. Who wouldn't? They are all scared of him. "Every year, you have that senior who will talk to the coach and tell them what's really going on," Jackson continued. "We have a great relationship and he's become that guy. He's now comfortable in that role."
It was Finley speaking up that really changed the trajectory of his high school career. "He's always been good and has started since his freshman year," Jackson said. "He was a stud at linebacker. When our starting back went out last year, he came up to me and said, 'Coach, you know I can run the ball, right?' "We put him in the game and gave him a few carries. We were like, wow, we didn't know he could run like that. He runs behind his pads and has power in his legs. He can catch and block. He's not afraid to strike you on either side of the ball."
He would be named the District's All Purpose MVP in 2019 for his play at linebacker and running back. Bull is picking up where he left off in 2019 and has hopes of playing in college. He's been offered by Louisiana College so far. "He's going to play somewhere," Jackson said. "He's just too versatile. You get a running back and linebacker in one.
EISENHOWER WAS ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN LAST SEASON AS THE EAGLES MISSED THE POSTSEASON WHILE IN A THREE-WAY TIE FOR THE THIRD AND FOURTH PLAYOFF SPOT.
Swoop Nation is looking to distance themselves from their competitors in this shortened season. With five starters on both sides of the ball returning, coach Eric Jackson feels like the Eagles are playoff bound in 2020.
"It comes down to our youngsters stepping up and our veteran players doing a little bit more," Jackson said. "We talk about the goal every day and they understand the expectations what the goals are."
The goal is to get back to the postseason and the Eagles got off to a solid start to the season. The strength? "Our offensive line is solid and so is the linebacking unit," he said. "But the strength is our secondary. We have four or five guys back there who can really play and have experience."
Christian Dunbar, Lorenzo Taylor, Darren Lino and Chance Gardner patrol the back seven, while Devin Allen, Keith Stucey and Waymon Finley anchor the linebacking corps. Sophomore QB Ryan Niblett has been a surprise but the dude is Finley, who doubles as the team's leading RB as well.
It's no wonder Finley wears the No. 44, which is the moniker for the legendary neighborhood Acres Homes. The historical 44 Metro bus route ran right through the area, which was one of the only forms of transportation for its black residents decades ago. To wear No. 44 means something. "Our kids know what to expect playing for this community," Jackson said. "Most of our kids play both ways going back to middle school. It takes heart to do it, but they know the expectations. They will do anything to help this team have success." It's the Eisenhower Way. Swooooooop.