By DON WALLACE
News-Telegram Sports Editor
The first afternoon practice for the Wildcats wasn’t exactly sizzling, but the action was productive.
The temperature struggled to reach 89 about 5 p.m. Thursday at the Wildcats toiled on the practice field.
Sulphur Springs head football coach Greg Owens remarked to former coach and administrative assistant Dwayne McMeans that he was surprised by the conditions.
“This isn’t too bad, we’ve got a little breeze,” Owens said.
The Wildcats are in their first football action of the year today as they trek to Texarkana for a meeting with the Leopards at Harris Field.
The junior varsity-ninth grade will begin play at 5 p.m., the varsity to follow at 6:30 p.m.
The varsity will have 24 plays on offense, and 24 on defense in the controlled scrimmage. Then the teams play a timed half. Teams won’t have live kicking.
“We really just want to execute. Do our job,” Owens said when asked about objectives for the controlled scrimmage.
“We get to go up against someone else,” Owens said. “This is the first time on varsity for some players in the group. They have to adjust to the speed of varsity football. We’ll see how they do.”
Another part of the scrimmage which is very important to the Wildcats is getting their players on video.
“Once get the video from the scrimmage, then we can evaluate the players and find out where we are,” Owens said.
Owens said his team plans to use a basic offense and defense against Liberty-Eylau.
“We get to hit a different color uniform, I think Liberty-Eylau is crimson,” Owens said. “That’s the main thing, after all these practices we get to hit someone else now.”
Owens said, “I don’t know what kind of athletes Liberty-Eylau has this year. Traditionally they had speed. They had 35 seniors last year.” Liberty-Eylau has a strong tradition in football, having won state titles as a 3A school in 2006 and 1999.
The Leopards are coached by Steve Wells who was the co-offensive coordinator last year. The team is expected to use the small pistol offensive attack as they did in 2013.
Liberty-Eylau is picked to win District 7-4A, DI, despite having just five returning starters.
The Leopards went 6-5 a year ago, losing in the bi-district round.
Sulphur Springs is picked third in District 15-5A. The Wildcats were 8-4 last year, losing out in the area playoffs. The team has seven offensive and eight defensive starters returning.
“Thursday was a decent day. It was a bit warmer than normal because we were going in the evening,” said Triston Abron, defensive coordinator. “I think this might have had a slight affect on the mindset of the players. The plan today versus L-E is to play sound, fundamental, defense. We want to see the guys swarming to the ball, playing with passion, and enthusiasm.We have several guys playing different positions than they have played in the past. We are looking for the adjustments that they are making and how they are playing in those spots. Athletically we are pretty good, the thing that we have to get better at and be more consistent with is playing physical every snap.”
Matt Young, Sulphur Springs offensive coordinator said, “ I think we are simply ready to play an opponent. Against L-E we are real vanilla and looking for our kids to play with good tempo, execute and then see who can make a play when given the opportunity. Also L-E's speed and quickness provides a great challenge for our guys to stay on blocks and get open to catch the ball.”
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