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Home News-Telegram Sports SS eyes Marshall; Owens wants more

SS eyes Marshall; Owens wants more

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    The final regular season home football game comes with a challenge.
    That's the word spread by Wildcat head football coach Greg Owens.


    Sulphur Springs and Marshall meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gerald Prim Stadium. Little is left to decide, maybe playoff pairings.
    But Sulphur Springs is 3-1 in 14-4A play and Marshall is 2-2, Both have playoff berths secure, tucked away in their hip pockets.
    Owens wants more.
    "I challenged the players and the coaches this week, to do more," said Owens said. "It's been good. But I told the kids that we are not there yet. After nine games you need to be doing things a certain way. We have a lot of room for improvement as a team. This week we need to get better. I asked the coaches to get better at their craft. To challenge kids. I asked the players to get better fundamentally. We are down to it. We are in the playoffs. The deal is now, how good can this football team be. That's where we are now, challenging them to be as good as we can be."
    Owens said that while the Wildcats, due to the weather, have been limited to indoor work, the practices held in the multi-purpose building have been good and productive.
    "Monday and Tuesday were pretty good days," Owens said. "We made some physical mistakes on Tuesday, but we were playing hard. We had a nice, intense practice. We had some competition between the offense and the defense. Defense got the best of the offense on that day. But you create competition and it's good and kids are receiving the message."
    Owens said blocking and tackling, two of the fundamentals of football are always getting attention in practice.
    "We are poor tacklers. But we practice every day on it," Owens said. "We make some fundamental mistakes on defense. Like getting after the quarterback and blowing coverages. We have experience now, we have played nine football games. We should be better on some things on defense. Offensively, we work on the first stance, the explosion by the offensive line. Locking on guys and going. Receivers and running backs need to be better blockers. We are not tenacious enough, we need to refocus on that area. We have to take care of the football. We need to carry it high and tight. Those are fundamentals and basics that lose ball games for you. We need to execute better. We are in playoff mode right now, it's time to turn it on. It's about guys who can make plays, if one doesn't make a play then the next guy will come in."
    Marshall has five offensive and five defensive starters returning from a 1-9 team. They are coached by 1994 Marshall graduate, Clint Harper in his first year at the helm. Harper played quarterback for the Mavs. He took the job after going 19-6 in two years and two playoff berths at Leander. He was an assistant coach at Jacksonville, Troup and Baytown.
    The Mavericks are fifth in district on offense, averaging 340.9 yards per game. Top rusher is Jauque Kuykendall  with 105 carries for 805 yards eight touchdowns. Deondre Osborne has 349 yards with four scores. Justin Hart, at quarterback, has completed 95-of-180 passes for 1,681 yards with 12 touchdowns, seven interceptions. Marek Reyes tops the receiving corps with 27 receptions for 381 yards. He also the punter.
    "Marshall is big and fast," Owens said as he summed up the Mavs on offense. "They are one of the most talented teams we have come up against. Right now they have not put it together football wise. They are making a ton of mistakes, giving up easy score and trying to figure it out. They have two district wins, they are a playoff team. They are climbing, trying to get there. It's the first year for Coach Harper. He's trying to instill his beliefs and a feather in their cap, they get in the playoffs. They had been through two extremely rough years. They are trying to get better every day, just like us. We are striving for perfection."
    Owens said, "The size of Marshall jumps of the page at you. They are big, physical kids. They are based from a spread. No. 15 (Kuykendall) can fly, they try to get him the ball. There's not much deception, when he's in the game, he gets the ball. He also runs the Wildcats. We need to execute and take away what they want to do. Hart, is a sophomore, at quarterback, he started as a freshmen. He's learning leadership, you can tell he's a sophomore. They have a large offensive line. They probably average 270 pounds up front. We need to use our quickness to get off blocks, get around them and tackle. We have to get people on the ground and quit having fly byes. They are 60 percent run, 40 pass. They try to get it to their fast kids and let them use their athleticism."
    The Marshall defense has allowed 411 points this year. They are next to last in the district in defense, giving up 443.7 yards per game.
    "They will base out of a four man look," Owens said. "They have struggled stopping the run. That is something we need to get on early. We need to put the ball in Willy Ivery and Junior's (Larry Pryor) hands so we can get them tired. Then we can take a shot. Right now, this year, our run game is setting up our passing game. We do different things and reads. We have to block and when the receivers block more we get the more we pass. We have to get on Marshall. They have good size on the defensive front, they are active. Rashad Williams is their best lineman, he's 270 pounds and has a good motor. We have to contain them with our line. The secondary is extremely athletic, they get after it and compete. They get lost in some coverages, they take eyes off guys they should be guarding. We do that to, so we feel their pain on that."
    Owens said, "The game really is about us executing, not to sound arrogant. But we need to do what we do and get better at it. If we do that, then we will be successful. We aren't really game planning against any individual. It's about us and what we do. The keys for us are as usual, block, tackle,  take care of the football. We did not always do that last week and we let Pine Tree get back in the game. It's human nature to let down, we had a big lead at the half. We had the game in hand, but we let them get back in it. In today's football, a 21 point lead can disappear quickly. We can't afford to have blown assignments and missed tackles."    Senior Night will be observed, beginning at 7 p.m.

 

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