Wildcats facing a different Zoffuto team
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 16, 2004 - The last time Sulphur Springs fans were across the field from Mike Zoffuto, it was almost 20 years ago and the Wildcats were battling with his Mount Pleasant Tigers for district supremacy.

There won't be as much at stake Friday when the Wildcats meet up with Zoffuto's current team, Dallas W.T. White, a Class 5A program that is still looking for its first win of the year.

The Wildcats (2-1) and Longhorns (0-3) will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Loos Stadium in Addison. It will be the first meeting between the teams in at least 50 years.

Zoffuto, in more than 30 years as head coach in East Texas and the metroplex, is best known for running a wishbone offense heavy on the option, but Sulphur Springs head coach Brad Turner said the Longhorns aren't using a normal Zoffuto offense.

"Coach Zoffuto is an old school wishbone guy. When he was at Lake Highlands, they were the group that kind of invented the midline option, which is all over the place now," Turner said. "He's a very intelligent offensive coach, but they're not doing the option stuff he's known for. Offensively, they're young. They're searching for their way."

W.T. White is running an I-formation, and they've had trouble scoring points, partly because their offensive personnel are young and inexperienced. They have more sophomores (three) starting than seniors (two). They've also lost seven fumbles this year.

The Longhorns have put up just 30 points in three games, all of them losses to other 5A schools, Irving Nimitz, Carrollton R.L. Turner and South Garland.

That should play into the hands of the Wildcats, whose defense has shut down its opponents in all three games, giving up just 12 points in regulation play to Jacksonville, none to Forney and 14 to Poteet.

"I think our defense is playing so well right now that I think we just need to line up with the attitude that we've seen big offenses and we've seen fast offenses and it really doesn't matter. We're going to stop whatever we see," Turner explained. "We need to limit the big play and make them try to drive the field, and I think we'll be OK."

The Longhorns' starting tailback is Leon Patton (5-7, 160), who has rushed for 112 yards on 10 carries and returned a punt for a TD. But, since he starts both ways, most of the carries have gone to his back-up, Dante Thomas (5-8, 180), who has 156 yards on 46 totes.

They use two quarterbacks, sophomore Juan Tovar and senior Drew Harris. The senior has the better passing stats, completing 9-of-17 for 140 yards, while Tovar has completed 5-of-17 for 40 yards.

Defensively, though, W.T. White is much better.

The Longhorns have good athletes, who the coaches turn loose on blitzes and stunts, Turner said. They are susceptible to big plays both for and against, resulting in five touchdowns of more than 30 yards.

"Defensively, we're going to see some athletes," Turner said. "I think we're going to get a good dose of man coverage and blitz against White because we spread the field and throw the ball. I think their theory will be that they're going to put the heat on our young quarterbacks, and if we pick them up, so be it. If we can't, then they'll get after us.

"I saw them against South Garland, which is a good 5A school, and they were all loaded up there. They were bringing seven or eight every time."

The Wildcats struggled against Jacksonville's scheme of man coverage and blitz in the season opener, but have put up 77 points the last two games.

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