R-R-Ring: SS coaches anxious to see if Cats answer wake-up call
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 18, 2006 - The wake-up call for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats will come early Saturday morning. Greg Owens hopes they answer it in a both a literal and figurative way.

The Wildcats will host Greenville at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Gerald Prim Stadium in their first preseason scrimmage. Along with getting out of bed and getting the blood flowing early in the morning, Owens wants the players to respond to the challenge of facing another team.

This will be Owens' first look at the squad since he was hired away from Lindale Feb. 1.

"We want to get through it without getting any kids hurt, but get a good look at them," he said. "At this point in the season, the kids are ready to face somebody else, and we need to evaluate them against another team. We need to find out who will bite and who will improve their game against another team."

Greenville also has a new coach, Jeff Cordell from Gainesville, who will also be evaluating his players for the first time.

Because Greenville is expected to have quite a few players going both ways, the coaches agreed to separate varsity series with JV series. So, the varsity starters will open the scrimmage against each other for 15 plays, then the JV starters will go for 15 more, and the squads will alternate until the coaches have seen enough.

To finish out the scrimmage, the varsities will play a live quarter with a running clock.

"Most of Coach Cordell's staff was with him at Gainesville, but ours is totally brand new. So, I wanted to set it up just like a Friday night - put the people on the phones who will be on the phones and start working on our communications and our signals, and work on our kids getting on and off the field," Owens said. "It's really a benefit to have this second scrimmage in there right now, especially with a new staff.

"We'll do a little bit of that and a little special teams."

The Wildcats will scrimmage Terrell next Friday before opening the season Sept. 1 at McKinney. That gives the coaching staff just two more weeks to decide opening-game starters and which players will be on varsity or on junior varsity.

"We're constantly evaluating players," Owens said. "The depth chart can change, and has changed, from one practice to the next. We'll use this scrimmage and next week's scrimmage to continue our evaluation, but it's something we do every day."

By starting at 8:30 a.m., the coaches hope the scrimmage will conclude before it gets too hot. Greenville has an indoor practice facility it can use, but the Wildcats have been out in the 100-plus degree heat every afternoon.

"There's a thought that you put them out there in the heat to get them used to that, but there's a point where it damages the kid," the coach said. "At a certain point, he's totally drained, and we want them fresh Saturday where they can go hard all the time."

Notes: The Wildcats will have picture day at Gerald Prim Stadium starting at 3 p.m. today with the freshmen. ... The Wildcat Booster Club is preparing a hamburger meal for the Greenville players as a fundraiser. Greenville is paying $5 per student for the meal. ... The Booster Club will also have its apparel booth open.

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