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Home News-Telegram Sports Sulphur Springs opens grid season in Paris

Sulphur Springs opens grid season in Paris

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It’s just the first game of the year and teams are already playing the David vs. Goliath card.
You know the drill, their humble team vs. the big and bad state champions. But it is something Sulphur Springs is going to have to get used to.
Paris head coach Travis Smith has already told his Wildcats about the state champions coming to town Friday night. The fire is fueled with the fodder of the 14-2 record in 2008. Paris wants to make a good showing on their home turf.
“That’s what we’re expecting. Everybody is going to bring their ‘A’ game for us after we won state,” Sulphur Springs head coach Greg Owens said. “We know it, we expect it.”
Paris and Sulphur Springs are long-time foes having played more than 40 times over the years. The Wildcats vs. Wildcats skirmish does not mean as much as it used to.
“    I don’t think any of the old rivals are like they were in years’ past,” Owens said. “Our rivals now are teams like Whitehouse or teams we have had close games with like Texas High. We’ve had some heated moments, those teams have a little more meaning for us. It can become a year-to-year thing. The rivalry is not here with Paris for these kids because we’re not the district opponent,”
The coach continued, “We’ve been playing Paris for many years. They’ve been in our 7-on-7 stuff with us. They’re very athletic and extremely fast. They have lots of players going both ways. We will suit up 40 or so and they will have 30 to 32. They have some youth and they are hurting in their depth, hopefully that fits into our game plan.”
Paris is No. 28 in the Class 3A Harris Ranking.
In their final scrimmage Paris took a 5-1 win over Whitesboro. What was clicking was the team’s passing game with two quarterbacks combining to throw for four scores as they rolled up 370 yards on offense.
Paris quarterback Corban Taylor completed 5-of-10 pass for 154 and two scores while Broderick Reed was 3-of-7 for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Neither QB threw an interception.
Top running back for Paris is Aaron Etheridge who had nine touchdowns and 500 yards last year. Another good back is Tyrell Smith. The offensive line is powered by Dylan Cathey (6-3, 290) and Eric Campbell (6-5, 250).
On the defensive side, defensive end Ced Hill had 123 tackles with back up from linebacker McKinley Burckett who contributed 74 tackles.
Sulphur Springs in recent years has exhausted teams with their high octane NASCAR offense. Last year Sulphur Springs wore Paris down and took a 48-20 win to open the year.
The opening game is the first varsity action for several Sulphur Springs players.
Colton Lee will get his first varsity start at quarterback, but he is supported by an experienced offensive line and talented receivers. Beau Carpenter, a 6-6 beast on the line, has committed to play next year for Texas Tech. Mason Y’Barbo is lean and mean at 280 pounds and working to be more agile at the point of attack.
The Sulphur Springs defense had Tyler Higginbotham leading the way at middle linebacker as he comes off a year where he recorded 180 tackles with four sacks.
Bryant (Day Day) Jackson is coming off a 99 tackle season. Defensive end Kedrick Dial, at 6-5, will be a force on the line. The two have their future lined out with Jackson already verbally pledging to the University of Texas while Dial will be going to Texas Tech.
Other defensive stalwarts include Triston Crook and LeMarcus Kendricks.
Owens said his team has been practicing hard and the game Friday is not going to be measured so much about how they play Paris, but how they play overall.
“We’re concerned about ourselves, about making improvements,” Owens said. “I don’t think we’re in the game mode yet. It will come, but it takes a little while to get people used to playing together. I don’t want to overlook any opponent. Paris is a talented ball club which is expected to make big waves in 3A football.”
Sulphur Springs will rely on 28 seniors on the roster to bolster the team and stop the powerful Paris attack.
“They can run, Paris had people at the track meets we went to and we saw them,” Owens said. “Our focus is on our game and being consistent and playing well against Paris. We want to do things right. For us what we need to do is take care of the football, do what we do. Defensively, we need to fly to the football. We have be  ready on defense or they will break one deep.”
The Paris squad has been known for throwing the football in recent years. Sulphur Springs fans should expect the same both teams hit the field.
“Paris is a spread, a wide open ball team just like us,” Owens said. “They use two quarterbacks they have been rotating in. They are talented. They like the quick passing plays on you or go deep. Add to that they have a tailback who can really fly. They do some of the things we like to do. We need to get a good pass run. Defensively, Paris is very active. They like to go to a cover zero and blitz, they bring the heat. One of our main concerns is pass  protection. Colton Lee is going to have to be on and hitting the receivers.’
Owens said he’s see too many drops and lack of concentration in practice. He hopes this is corrected by Friday night.
“This is the first game and I think a lot of teams are like us. You are scrambling to make sure the special teams are playing well. You want to be as consistent as you can be,” Owens said. “We have a long way to go, but we are in pretty good shape.”
The  Sulphur Springs Wildcats are anxious to have a better showing than they did in the Terrell scrimmage, Owens said.
“We got a little taste of teams getting up for us against Terrell,”’ Owens said. “We won the scrimmage against Terrell, but they played us down to the wire. We’ll see everybody’s best game we’ve got to be ready to perform.”
 

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