|Tigers are next opponent in Wildcats' playoff path|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Nov. 11, 2004 - Three weeks ago, the Terrell Tigers were an afterthought when it came to the Class 4A football playoffs. Now, they are foremost on the minds of the Sulphur Springs Wildcats.
Terrell lost its first three district games, but came back to win its last two games over Wylie and Mesquite Poteet to get into the playoffs as the third-place team out of District 11-4A.
Now, the Tigers (5-4) face Sulphur Springs (8-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Frisco Memorial Stadium in the bi-district round of the Class 4A, Division II playoffs.
Sulphur Springs head coach Brad Turner knew all along Terrell had good enough athletes to make the playoffs, it was just a matter of them getting it together. They did that the final two games.
"They didn't play very good early in the district schedule, but they turned around and beat Wylie and Poteet. They fought back and found a way to get back in it," said Turner. "They're going to have a lot of confidence coming into the game, because they battled back and made the playoffs."
But, their confidence isn't what worries Turner the most.
"They're fast. Fast doesn't really describe them," he explained. "They're the fastest bunch we've played this year. Their biggest asset, without a doubt, is speed."
Three of the four members of their state silver medal-winning sprint relay team play for the Tigers, including Brice McCain, who is their biggest threat offensively. McCain and the other two sprinters also play defensive back.
McCain (5-10, 170) was moved to tailback about the time that Terrell started winning after losing four straight games in their middle of their schedule. He gained over 100 yards rushing in each of the two games he started. The Tigers have eight runners in all who have gone over 100 yards this season, topped by Jamal King with 517 yards and three TDs on 85 carries.
Their top touchdown-producer is quarterback Rolando Kennedy (5-9, 160), who has eight TDs and 245 yards rushing. Wright has ran the ball more times (80) than he has thrown it (62).
"They don't throw the ball very much. They don't even try to throw it most times," Turner said. "They're a running team. They're going to get in the I and toss it several different ways. They will run the lead and try to power it.
"They'll try to get it in the hands of No. 3, McCain, who is probably the fastest kid on the team. He's their playmaker."
If the Wildcats can contain him as they did North Lamar's 1,600-yard rusher Broderick Franklin last week, it will go a long way to toward them advancing in the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
"The challenge for our defense is to stop another good back. Out of our 11 games, we've seen a good back most of those games," Turner said. "The fact is that this one is faster than the ones we've seen. What makes him special is his speed."
McCain is also their best cornerback, and the SSHS receivers will have to find a way to get open against their speedy defensive backs.
SSHS' Rolaundo Wright, at 6-4, has a height advantage over the Terrell defenders, and he is the Wildcats' leading receiver with 53 catches for 833 yards and eight touchdowns. Slot receiver Keelan Green (38 catches for 349 yards) can run with anybody in the state after coming in fourth in the 100-meter dash at the state track meet last year.
And, Keenan Clayton saw more time offensively against North Lamar than he has in a while. But, Turner said the SSHS running game, powered by junior Chris Person, will be the most important part of the offense.
"We can't be off in our passing game, but I think we're going to have to have some success running the ball to draw them in," he said. "We're going to need to be balanced and take advantage of our size advantage on the front lines."
Terrell has just four starters who weigh more than 200 pounds, and none bigger than 240. SSHS, on the other hand, has nine starters bigger than 200 including the entire starting offensive line.
"We'll just let it go Friday night. I think our kids are ready," Turner said. "This is a goal we set at the first of the year - to win a playoff game, and we need to do that."
Notes: The winner of the SSHS-Terrell game will play the winner between Lake Dallas (6-4) and Dallas Lincoln (8-1).