It's almost like the perfect storm, but in football.
While some schools might choose weak opponents for homecoming, Sulphur Springs head coach Greg Owens is a man of action, who likes challenges.
That's why Sulphur Springs is hosting No. 5-state ranked Whitehouse in a game which should give the homecoming crowd plenty of excitement.
"We know it's Whitehouse. That's why I wanted intense practices, We’ve cranked things up a notch to get this week," Owens said. "Whitehouse and Sherman are two of our rivals over recent years. We know what they are about and they know us. It's good competition and it doesn't hurt that they are state-ranked. They are super explosive. They are probably the most explosive offense we will face all year. We have to be on point defensively, creating turnovers."
Owens said, "The key to the whole attack for Whitehouse is quarterback Patrick Mahomes."
Mahomes, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound has pledged to go to Texas Tech. Last year he threw for 3,839 yards and 46 touchdowns and rushed for close to 300 yards and ran for six more scores. This season the blue-chipper is completing 64 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns with no interceptions. Athletic ability runs in the family, his father, Pat Mahomes, was a standout at Lindale and had a successful 11-year career as a Major League Baseball pitcher.
"I don't know if you stop Mahomes, but you have to slow him down," Owens said. "He is a definite talent. He is one of the most accurate passers, especially on the run. He makes things happen, he's a true gunslinger. When people think about quarterbacks like Brent Favre and those guys. He just makes things happen with his feet. He is a big guy, hard to get down. He has tremendous arm strength. He may end up getting drafted in baseball. He will have to make that decision. He can do almost anything he wants to. He creates a big time problem for us. We have to get him in the pocket and not let him break. We have been doing scramble drills all week to try and get ready. Mahomes is very good at finding guys, they run to open grass. It is like backyard football."
While the Whitehouse team does not have the large receiver like they have in recent years. They do have returning wide out Jake Parker. Parker caught 69 passes for 976 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012.
"They can really throw the ball. They have good receivers who come back and catch the ball," Owens said. "I watched them play Chapel Hill. I got to see them work for the ball. They go get it. He throws back shoulder fades and everything. He's on the money with his throws. Our defensive line and linebackers will have to get after him. We need to get him and tie his legs up so he won't hurt us. Everyone knows if you slow down Mahomes, then you have a chance."
So far this year, Whitehouse has more than 800 yards passing the ball, compared to only 339 from their rushing attack.
"I don't think they will try and hammer the ball right at us," Owens said. "We have to be prepared for what they do."
The Wildcats could use their offense to keep Whitehouse off the field if they could string together long drives and keep possession of the pigskin.
"We need to help ourselves and play well on offense," Owens said. "We need to convert third downs and drive for scores. We have been punting too much, we need to keep the ball. We got to go down and execute and put points on the board. We must stay on the field and get the defense tired. We need to wear down the opponent. We did better last week, but we did not dominate the game. This is still week three, it's a learning thing for a lot of the younger players. We are out here to get serious and perform well on a Friday night. We are facing a potent team which is very good. If we don't care of business, they could embarrass us."
The Whitehouse defense has been allowing 30 points a game, but that has mattered little with their offense putting up 50 a contest.
Top players on the defense include Chris Reece and Reggie Long. Reece, at defensive back had 53 tackles and three forced fumbles. Long picked off two passes and rolled up 76 tackles. Returning cornerback Nate Brooks had four picks and 42 tackles.
"Whitehouse is not overcomplicated, we are familiar with the style they use," Owens said. "They will bring some outside blitzes and inside blitzes. They will move the front around. They are impressive and very active. Long is probably their leading tackler."
Experience is another factor Whitehouse has going for them. They have 43 returning lettermen.
"A big thing is their 17 senior starters," Owens said. "That says experience. They have lots of good kids. These guys have been around, they've played. They have savvy, they are very good. They cover well, the cornerbacks are experiences. They lost a stud in their secondary in Justin Dunning. He popped his knee and is out, he was being recruited by everybody. That hurts them. Their offense and defensive lines are big. They are physical kids, we can't let them get their hands on us and mash us. We have to stick them quick, get off and go make plays."
Sulphur Springs and Whitehouse have had some wide open, high scoring games. Last year it was Whitehouse taking a 38-33 win. Sulphur Springs scored 70 points in 2011 against Whitehouse is a wild affair.
"It's Whitehouse, we have a history with them. We know that no lead is safe," Owens said. "We were up two touchdowns one year and they came back to beat us. They have eliminated us from the playoffs. We've had some big games with them. The biggest challenge is limit the success of Mahomes, that is hard. They have a Texas Tech mentality, they are going to throw it and throw it. They sling it untill the last whistle blows, they are that aggressive."
Whitehouse a new coach for the first time in more than a decade with former offensive coordinator Adam Cook promoted to replace Randy McFarlin.
"The new coach has been there, he knows the system," Owens said. "They play hard with a lot of spirit. We know the attitude of Whitehouse. We feel like we know what we are going to get."
Owens said he anticipates a big crowd of the homecoming game not only from home fans, but the following of Whitehouse.
"Homecoming is a neat deal and it's good people get to come in and see old friends," Owens said. "But for the team, it is not as distracting as it was years ago. You always want to win. It should be an exciting time, playing a state-ranked team what we have history with like Whitehouse. We are coming off a big win and they are 2-0. It should be a great ball game."
|< Prev||Next >|