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Wildcats get ready for Bobcats

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     If the Wildcats have short-term memories issues concerned with recent football games, it is all right with head coach Greg Owens.
    Owens would be perfectly happy if Sulphur Springs did not repeat anything they did against Texas High last week.

    The 43-7 loss at Texarkana is something best forgotten.
    "We got pushed around and lost the battle at the line of scrimmage," Owens said. "They leaned on us at the line and were able to hold the ball, score and control the clock. Then on offense we had turnovers on three of our first four possessions. Texas High had a near perfect game plan and we couldn't do anything. We have to bounce back from that Friday against Hallsville."
    Sulphur Springs, 4-3 overall, 1-1 in district, will host Hallsville (5-2, 2-0) at Gerald Prim Stadium in a key district game.
    "We're trying to get our second district win and Hallsville is the next team," Owens said of the matchup. "We've been licking our wounds and now it's time to play. We had a good week of workouts. We need to get back on track. Hallsville presents lots of problems. They are a good team and they extremely hard. They are well-coached. They are very quick and have some kids who can really run."
    Top of the list of the "quick kids" for Hallsville are wide receiver Andre Jones and quarterback Macailyn Wilder. Jones has 23 catches for 396 yards and five touchdowns for the Bobcats. Wilder has completed 76-of-142 passes for 1,259 yards (53 percent) with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Wilder also is third in the district in rushing 753 yards and 12 scores.
    "Jones is one of the fastest kids in district," Owens said. "The T-High kid was fast. But this young man is the same way. He is dangerous when he gets the ball in his hands. He's a receiver, punt and kick returner. He really jumps off the video when you see him as a returner. Overall, they just get after you. They are quick, aggressive and play hard. They had a slow start on the year. But in district, they have flipped a switch and really gotten after it in district play. "
    Owens said, "You could call them a spread on offense, but they use a tight end. They spread it out and try to get to the outside. They do some quick screens, zone reads. The key to the offense is Wilder. He's a senior, he's fast, athletic and makes very good decisions at quarterback. He makes the whole thing go. They would prefer the run to the pass, 60-40. They do a great job with it. They can run inside and outside. We have to play assignment football. It's like playing an option team in a way. You have to play your guys. We have people assigned to the quarterback and running back. We have to do that and get after it."
    Owens said the offensive line might not be as large as Texas High, but are still bigger than average.
    "They have one kid, 295, another 265-pounds," Owens said."Most of them are 225 or bigger. Pretty good sized high school linemen. They tie you up at the line. They are tenacious."
    Another change from last week will be the tempo of the game. While Texas High liked to milk the clock and play ball control, Hallsville works at a quicker pace.. Not up to the speed of the Sulphur Springs attack, but fairly close.
    Owens said, "They are a medium tempo team. They want to get in a good tempo, but they don't overwhelm you."
    Hallsville is fourth in the district in total offense, averaging 398 yards a game. The Wildcats lead the district, averaging 438 yards per contest.
    The Bobcats have the second best defense in the district, second only to Texas High. Hallsville is allowing 369 yards per game. Sulphur Springs is the No. 3 rated defense, allowing 383.9 yards per game.
    Hallsville defense is based from a 4-3 front and often use a 4-2-5.
    "It's like the defense we saw last week. They get after you, they do a good job. Their defensive linemen are quick, aggressive and do a good job," Owens said. "They do a really good job. They have one linebacker, Tyler Martinez, who plays like the Rhone kid did at Texas High. Martinez runs sideline to sideline and does a good job making plays and tackles. I was impressed with him. They have good kids in the secondary, they all run well. They are good secure tacklers. They are aggressive, they get off the ball well. We challenged our receivers to block well, we did not do that against Texas High. We will have our hands full this week."
    The Bobcats can also come up with a big play from special teams. While they might use pooch kids when they have the ball. On the return, they are very aggressive and look to score.
    Jamil Young leads the district with a 34.50 average on four returns with one touchdown on kickoffs. Top punt returner is Dionte Johnson who has returned 20 for 696 yards, average of 32.33 yards per tote.
    Owens said, "We can't let Hallsville have the ball and get it to their fast guys. We have to limit them with our defense. We also need to come up with some turnovers. On offense, we can't have three and outs. We'd like to get in a rhythm and move the ball and score points. We want to get in a comfort zone and not press. The defense has to get off the field and we must tackle better than we did last week. We have to do a better job on the defensive line. We have to get off blocks, run and make tackles. I think we have a great plan, we have to execute. We have to do our job and execute."
    The Bobcats are coached by David Plunk. Plunk, like Owens, is a Stephen F. Austin State University graduate. He has been at Hallsville for seven years. The squad went 7-4 last year. They have eight offensive and five defensive starters back from that team.
    "I've known coach Plunk since high school," Owens said. "We played against each other. He went to Kilgore and I was at Sulphur Springs. We were at Stephen F. together, I did not know him that well. But we have been coaching against each other for years. We have a lot of mutual friends, my brother coached with him at Grand Saline. We have lots of ties and we have respect what they are doing. We know they are 2-0 and we want to get back and it's not an easy feat going up against a good team like Hallsville."
    In last year’s game in Hallsville, the Wildcats took a hard-fought 38-31 win.




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