The first step toward getting over the funk left over from losing 61-22 to Whitehouse is getting a win in the next game.
Sulphur Springs has a chance to do that Friday as they trek to Wildcat Stadium to meet the Paris Wildcats at 7:30 p.m. in a non-district battle between two squads aching for a big win.
Sulphur Springs, ranked No. 50 in the Class 4A poll are favored by nine points on the road against Paris, a team listed as the No. 45 Class 3A team in the state Harris Poll.
"We tried to create a challenging practice Tuesday and we did some competitions," Owens said. "I don't know where we are mentally. We are trying to a focus and the team's motor running at the level we know it needs to be to play Paris on Friday. Paris is not a rival game and it hasn't been built up as that. But, still we have to get after them. They beat our tail a couple of years ago because we can out poorly and did not take care of business. We had a sloppy attitude and did not play well."
Paris, the coach said, always has speed and good, athletic players. The squad is 1-2 for the season. They lost 40-17 at Mount Pleasant in the season opener, bounced back to win 22-13 at home against Denison and fell last week to state-ranked Argyle, 53-7.
"They (Paris) will make you pay if you are not taking care of your business," Owens said.
In the scouting report of the Paris Wildcats, five different players were described as “fast” after seeing them in action.
Leading rusher for Paris is Quez Allen the quarterback with 50 carries for 135 yards with two touchdowns, three fumbles. Dren Rollerson has 123 yards on 27 totes and one score.
Allen has completed 25 of 50 passes for 290 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions.
Kenny Mason is the top receiver with seven grabs for 70 yards. Cordarrius Hill has five grabs for 43. Jordan Williams has caught two passes for 22 yards, both touchdowns.
Owens said, "They are 1-2 and coming off a loss, just like us. We are both wounded. We are looking to rebound and they are two. Paris scares me, they really do. We need to come out and take control of the ball game offense, defense, special teams - the whole deal. I want to see a focused effort on our part, taking care of our business. We are improving, starting to eliminate mistakes. Our job is to stop big plays. On offense, we need to convert third and five and downs like that to continue the drive and keep our defense off the field. Hopefully, put a drive together and go down and score. We have been getting penalties and or not reading the play right off the band. We create a hardship for ourselves. We need to keep the chains moving. We have to get it right. We are trying to create the urgency and get things rolling. We need for the team to crank it up. We've had injuries, but the players we shuffled around have game experience. We need them to rise to the occasion."
Paris uses multiple offensive formations and might be one of the few teams in the area which like to run more than pass.
"They really try to spread it. They are run oriented, they run 70 percent of the time," Owens said. "They get in a spread look and try to move you around. They try to create confusion, but they still run it most the time. They use two back sets, a wingback, H back, lots of formations. Defensively, we have to read our key and go make a play."
The Paris team uses a three man defensive front backed up by three linebackers. It's a formation Sulphur Springs have not faced this year, but one they might see in district.
"It's different — the 3-3 look. Those guys are moving around," Owens said. "They walk the backers outside and bring them. They haven't shown a lot of inside blitzing yet. They can mix it up. They want to get to the quarterback and forced a bad decision. We can adjust, we know what to do. This 3-3 is something our district opponents will jump in and out of later in the year. We got to block their front. They appear to be pretty average in size."
Paris is in the first year under new head coach Steven Hohenberger. Hohenberger, a North Lamar graduate, joined the staff after serving as head coach at Irving Nimitz. The Wildcats went 8-4 last year advancing to the regional semifinals under coach Barry Bowman.
Standouts for the Paris squad include linebacker Bricky Reed, a 5-10, 225-pounder, who had 112 tackles a year ago with 23 tackles for losses. Jordan Williams is also back on defense after recording 88 tackles, six sacks and 21 tackles for losses in 2012.
This year the Wildcats are going with sophomore Allen at quarterback. Running backs are Shundarrious Goodson and Rollerson. Goodson is 5-9, 170 and know for his speed. Rollerson is a 185-pound power back.
"Hohenberger has taken over the play calling duties. They are still learning the system and the kids," Owens said. "I sense some frustration from them, trying to figure out their team. They’re trying to dig out of a hole after a loss and find out which way they are going. Allen is a talented young quarterback, he is a sophomore and hasn't developed. But you can see some nice things when he plays, he could be special. He has great touch on the ball, he's got savvy. I think he played some as a freshman. Kenny Mason, a slot receiver for them, is very fast and is explosive. A typical speedy, slot receiver for Paris. It's a track meet when you face them. They can run. We have got to get after them."
Top linemen for Paris include Jax Daingerfield, a right guard who's 6-2, 300 pounds. Antonio Burton is 6-1, 295 pounds. Arion Milton is a 5-8, 250-pound guard with good feet according to coaches.
Owens said, "It comes down to us playing well and being consistent. We want grow and mature and be able to make the play when the time comes."
For Sulphur Springs, Dekeistan Mosley is working back into shape. Tyler Williams injured last week, will be out at least three weeks.
"We're coming off playing an explosive Whitehouse team. We did give up 61 points, but some of that is on the special teams when you fumble the ball," Owens said. "Some of that is on the offense. We need to take ball and move down the field and score. Our offensive must be more consistent and keep the defense off the field. We have to answer when they score. Our guys did not perform at the level you have to perform at to be successful against a team like Whitehouse. Yeah, it still stings. We have not lost a district game, we are not out of the playoffs. It's us coming together and gaining confidence as we get closer to district."
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