|Cats preparing for homecoming tilt against Dallas W.T. White|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Sept. 15, 2005 - This weekend is homecoming and Fall Festival all rolled into one. Between the concert and the fare, the stew cook-off and the dance, the quilting show and the Cover Girl contest will be a football game.
And that is what should have the attention of the Sulphur Springs Wildcats.
Coming to town will be Dallas W.T. White (1-2), a 5A school in north Dallas that will be another strong test for the Wildcats (1-2). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., with the introduction of the homecoming court beginning at 7 p.m. at Gerald Prim Stadium.
W.T. White will bring two of the best running backs the Wildcats will face this season, and with the way the Wildcats have struggled to stop the run, head coach Brad Turner expects to see a heavy dose of Leon Patton (5-10, 190) and Dante Thomas (5-9, 175).
Patton will start at tailback, and is averaging 9.5 yards per carry having gained 398 yards on 42 totes. Already committed to Kansas State, Patton has also caught seven passes and scored four touchdowns.
"Those two backs, Dante Thomas and Leon Patton are two of the best we've seen - and I don't know which one is better," Turner said. "Stopping them is our biggest concern. They play both of those backs quite a bit. They'll put Dante in the backfield and split Patton out and try to get him the ball because he's so fast.
"They're not as good up front as some of the teams we've played, but they don't have to be because of those backs."
To better stop the run, the Wildcats will transition from their three-man defensive front to four down linemen. With starting outside linebacker Clay Wilks unavailable Friday due to a concusssion suffered in last week's loss to Mesquite Poteet, the coaches will replace him with another defensive end in a package they call "Dog."
In three games, the Wildcats' opposition has rushed for 697 yards on 127 carries and scored 11 TDs. W.T. White has rushed for 800 yards in their three games.
"We've got to find a way to stop the run, and we've made some changes defensively," Turner explained. "Part of that has been necessary because of injuries. We've got about 10 kids with some injury of some sort, and we've made changes. We've got to do something to stop the run. If we can stop these two guys, then we've made strides because they're good."
It helps that starting middle linebacker Zach Attaway will be ready for Friday after missing last week. He averaged 15 tackles per game the first two outings.
On defense, W.T. White runs the same scheme as Poteet, a 3-3 stack, but they have the athleticism in their defensive backfield as Jacksonville.
The leader of their defense is strong safety DeMaurier Thompson (6-1, 190), a Texas A&M commitment and Super Team player who is athletic and aggressive. The Longhorns will blitz him a lot, along with outside linebacker Rod Williams (5-7, 180).
"Thompson's coming off the edge all the time," Turner said. "We've got to account for him. They're pretty good in the secondary, which they have to be if they're going to blitz a lot. They're outside backers and secondary are good, Jacksonville-type talent."
The Wildcats will counter with an offense that produced almost 600 yards of offense and four touchdowns last week against a Poteet unit that had allowed just three points in the first eight quarters of the season.
Quarterback Logan Turner threw for 363 yards and rushed for 120 more last week, and wide receiver Josh Riley caught a school-record 17 passes. He and Tyler Rhoades both went over the 100-yard receiving mark, and running back Chris Person gained 96 yards on the ground.
But, Rhoades is questionable for Friday, as is wide receiver Josh Harrington, who may be cleared to play after missing the first three games while rehabbing an orthroscopically-repaired knee.
Jeffrey Pitts, the team's fastest player, may be seeing time on offense as well. Coaches are trying to get him prepared to give the team more of a break-away threat.