It All Adds Up
Special teams could be deciding factor in area round game

Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 19, 2004 - Playoff games often come down to big plays in the kicking game, turnovers and penalties. If that's true, it doesn't appear that either Sulphur Springs or Dallas Lincoln has a decided advantage going into Saturday's game.

Both teams have excellent kickers and they are almost dead even in take-aways and penalties. The Wildcats have a better return game and punter, but Lincoln has not turned the ball over as much.

The teams will kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday at SMU's Ford Stadium.

SSHS fans should enter through Gate 5, on the north side of Ford Stadium. Parking is available on the northwest side of the stadium and overflow parking is at Moody Coliseum. All tickets at the gate will be $8.

Lincoln (9-1), the District 10-4A champion, and Sulphur Springs (9-2), the 12-4A runner-up, appear to match up well. Both have high-scoring offenses - Lincoln is averaging 42.5 points per game and SSHS 35.5.

If there is to be a difference, it could come in the way of turnovers, penalties and field position.

"Penalties and turnovers have to be decreased," said Sulphur Springs head coach Brad Turner. "Those things can turn a game around.

"In the kicking game, I think we have an advantage. They have a good kicker, but I feel our kicking game is very strong."

Lincoln has intercepted 11 opponents' passes and recovered 13 fumbles while returning three of those take-aways for TDs. Sulphur Springs, meanwhile, has intercepted 12 passes, returning two for TDs, and recovered 13 fumbles, with one returned for a score.

Lincoln, though, has turned the ball over just nine times all year, while the Wildcats have 21 turnovers.

Both teams have had problems with penalties. Both schools are averaging about nine penalties for 75 yards per game, and they were each hit with 14 penalties in their bi-district victories.

Kicking-wise, Lincoln's Salvador Miriles is 51-of-55 on PATs and has made five field goals. Wildcat kicker Spenser Daniel has been true of 47-of-49 PATs and made six-of-seven field goals.

The Wildcats do have an advantage in the return game. Sulphur Springs has eight returns for touchdowns this year, while Lincoln has four.

Sulphur Springs is also better when it comes to punting. Daniel has done most of the punting, and he and Logan Turner have kicked 37 times for a 33.3 average. Lincoln has punted just 20 times this season, and for only a 28.9 average.

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