12th man: Wildcats looking to change things up on offense this season
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 9, 2006 - When the Sulphur Springs coaches look at their offensive schemes, they figure they've got the opposition outnumbered.

The Wildcat staff looks at 12 players, not 11, when they are formulating packages for various plays. It's not that they will play more than 11 - the extra player is someone who can substitute in to change the complexion of the play.

For instance, a package might include one back with four wide receivers, but the coaches will also draw up the play to include two backs with three wide outs. That way, the package is more flexible.

"I know we can only play with 11, but we'll personnel with 12 because there's so many things we can do," said SSHS head coach Greg Owens. "We'll package an empty set, with four wides, with three wides and two backs, all of that.

"It's a lot of moving parts, and what's great about that is that a lot of kids get to play. Hopefully, we've got the depth for a lot of kids to play."

The Wildcats will run an offensive system similar to what coach Brad Turner had in place. The base offense will be a no-huddle, one-back shotgun with four wide receivers. But, the Wildcats will also employ a two-back scheme and a no-back set.

It's the same scheme that Owens used at Lindale, though offensive coordinator Jeff Riordan is from Garland Lakeview Centennial. Their philosophy is the same.

"We're going to use the talent that we have and try to get those kids the ball," Owens said. "We really want as much speed as we can to be on the field, get them the ball and let them do their thing."

With just two days of practice behind them, Owens said it's too early in the season to start naming starters. But, returning starter Tyler Rhoades will likely be a key wide receiver, Jon Young is a returning letterman and the top JV pass catchers last year were Daqualyn "Boo" Evans, Jeff Beck and Jay Hall.

Quarterbacks Brittain Diamond, a junior, and Tyrick Rollison, a sophomore, have been throwing hundreds of passes a day as they work on timing routes with the receivers. Owens said coaches want a precision passing attack, where receivers run their routes "to perfection."

In the backfield, the Wildcats will have some bruising size with Stephan Petty, Christian Person and Louisiana transfer Phillip Wilson, if he is varsity-eligible. But, they also will utilize smaller, quicker backs like Josh Pryor and Jeff Pitts, who are two returning lettermen.

"Everybody wants a big, physical kid who can run and move, and we've got some of those. Now, we're not in very good shape right now back there," Owens said, referring to their conditioning. "We've got some kids back there who are pretty physical, and we want those kinds of kids. In this system, the quarterback's going to carry the ball, so that running back is going to have to block for him, and he's big in our protection, so we want those kids to be physical and aggressive.

"We've also got a package in there for not only a big kid, but a scatback type who will release out of the backfield and hopefully get a mismatch on a linebacker. There's a lot of moving parts to this thing."

Owens expects to have about 50 percent of the offense in place when the Wildcats scrimmage Greenville on Saturday, Aug. 19. That will include the base formations with a couple of screens, four or five running plays and a mix of long, mid-range and short passing plays.

They will then have two weeks before starting the season against McKinney on Sept. 1.

"It's a cliche, but we're going to take what they give us," Owens said. "If they back off, we're going to throw our quick game. If they're up on us, we're going to try to throw it over their heads. If they're soft inside and get spread out, we'll run up the gut. We're going to take what they give us and do the best we can."

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