Wildcats look to use speed to offset Sherman's size
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 16, 2004 -- After compiling an 18-6-1 record this season, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats will be looking up to their first-round playoff opponent. Literally, not figuratively.

The Wildcats go into the Class 4A bi-district game with a better record than their opponent, Sherman (10-11-1), but the Bearcats are a bigger, more physically-imposing team, said SSHS head coach Andy Holt.

The game is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Frisco.

"The scouting report on them is they're really big and physical," Holt said. "They're supposed to be really tall with several guys at about 6-3. They're really good at throw-ins and corners, so we've got to find a way to shut that down. We'll work on that this week -- how to defend it and what we can do to take advantage of what they do."

The Wildcats go into the game with an 11-1 mark in District 14-4A, having won 10 consecutive games and riding a streak of four consecutive shutouts behind the play of goalies Jeremy Potter and Aaron Ball, who has returned from injuries suffered when he was kicked in the face during a pre-district tournament.

The Wildcats allowed just four goals in 12 district contests.

Holt said the key to Thursday's playoff game will be to continue that defensive pressure while finding a way to score a couple of goals. While the Bearcats may be bigger, the Wildcats should be able to use their speed and ball control to their advantage.

"I think our skill level is higher than theirs as far as passing the ball around, and it's good that we're playing at Frisco which has the artificial turf field," which is an advantage to the faster team, Holt explained. "It's a wide field, so that helps on the throw-ins because Sherman likes to get you on a narrow field so they can throw it all the way to the back post.

"I feel if we can work the ball well and string some passes together, then we can find the back of the net after we do that. I think that's where we have an advantage on those guys."

Sherman beat Frisco, 5-2, last week to clinch the third playoff spot in District 13-4A. With the game tied at 2-2, the Bearcats scored three times in the final 10 minutes.

"That shows they're capable of scoring goals, but at the same time, they're capable of allowing goals," Holt explained. "I think if we can get one or two goals, we have a good chance of winning."

However, Holt said the Wildcats will have to match Sherman's aggressiveness.

They're a team that hustles and works hard. They're going to throw the ball up and they play physical, and they're going to go get it," he said. "They rely on their hustle and their effort. That's a big key to any sport you play -- having the desire to win.

"We're going to have to match that desire and find a way to put the ball in the back of the net so we will have a chance of winning."

Notes: Sulphur Springs will be the visiting team on Thursday. ...The Wildcats are working out this week even though school is out for spring break. ...The 14-4A champion, Mount Pleasant, gets a bye and will play the winner between Jacksonville and Kilgore. Pleasant Grove, the third place team in 14-4A, takes on Wylie in bi-district. ...The winner between Sulphur Springs and Sherman takes on Whitehouse in the area round.

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