|Points hard to come by for most 12-4A teams|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
August 30, 2004 - Points were a valuable commodity for District 12-4A teams Friday night with none of the teams scoring more than 17 points against Class 4A competition.
Last season, Sulphur Springs found themselves in an offensive shootout almost every week against 11-4A competition, but that wasn't the case in the opening week around the new district.
North Lamar put up 28 points, but that came against Class 3A Winnsboro, and the Panthers scored only one TD after the first quarter. The most impressive offensive showing was Texas High's 10-point win over Class 5A John Tyler, but the Tigers mustered just 17 points.
Greenville could manage just a TD and field goal in a 49-10 loss to No. 9 Kilgore, and Sulphur Springs did the same (plus a defensive safety) in a 20-12 loss to Jacksonville. Paris was idle.
"For us, all of our returning offensive starters are playing defense," said SSHS head coach Brad Turner. "Only two on offense, Wes Woods and Eric Chenault, had ever played a snap on varsity. That's still not an excuse, but it's part of the reason why.
"Plus, against Jacksonville's speed and style of defense, we didn't do very well. Offensively, we scored 10 points. If the defense holds them to 12, we ought to win."
The Wildcats' defense was led by free safety Keenan Clayton with 13 tackles, middle linebacker David Barnes and tackle Mitchell Smith with 12 each, linebackers Keidric Duffey and Jared Ramey with eight and seven, respectively.
Turner hopes to get two offensive starters back this week, though they are still questionable, in wide receiver Rolaundo Wright, a second team all-district selection last year, and offensive lineman Zane Attaway.
They may help spice up the offense, but the coach said the onus still rests on the Wildcats to execute better.
"We didn't execute very well. If the quarterback's on the right page, receivers are wrong. If receiver's on the right page, quarterback's wrong. If receivers and quarterbacks on the same page, we don't pick up the blitz and they flush us out," he recounted. "We never could establish the run. We've just got to keep working and finding the right combination of players on the field.
"If defense plays like that, we'll win. We'll find a way to score."
That could prove to be the difference, at least from the early returns, in a district in which the offenses are still feeling their way around.
"Everything that went bad could go bad. The kicking game was a factor. Fatigue was a factor, moreso for them than us," Turner explained. "Fatigue was a factor. Keenan was tired. On that last drive, their right corner was cramping. I put Keenan in there to go by him, but Keenan was tired, too. We never could take advantage of it.
"Then, we missed a pass to Josh (Riley) across the middle. If we get that, we've got a chance to score on that one. But, looking back, I don't think it should have ever got to that."
The coach said fans will likely see more of Riley at running back and wide receiver when he's not at quarterback.
"He was our leading rusher. We need to find a way to get the ball in his hands when he's not at quarterback," Turner said.