Bulletin Board Material: Owens doesn't pay much attention to Texas Football other than for motivation
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

June 17, 2006 - Greg Owens hasn't seen the preseason issue of Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine.

But, the Sulphur Springs head football coach said he might use it for motivation.

Texas Football has picked the Wildcats to finish third in District 11-4A behind Texas High and Paris. After SSHS, the projected order of finish is North Lamar, Lindale and Mount Pleasant.

"I don't take those articles very seriously. It's just a prediction, and they base it on what you did last year and your returning starters," Owens explained. "For the most part, I don't read it and I don't look at it. Sometimes it's good bulletin board material."

Texas High is not only picked to win the district, the Tigers are ranked No. 1 in the state by the magazine. They are led by quarterback Ryan Mallett, who is one of the top signal callers in the state.

The Tigers went 9-2 last season on varsity, losing to eventual state champion Highland Park in bi-district. Those were the only two games the Texas High program lost from seventh grade to varsity.

Owens didn't have a problem with Texas High being so highly considered. The Wildcats will travel to Texarkana to play the Tigers on Nov. 3.

"Now, is Texas High a legitimate No. 1? Probably so. With the kids they've got coming back and their stud quarterback, they're probably a legitimate No. 1," Owens said. "I guess it's good to say they're in our district, and we're going to line up and play those guys."

If Texas High goes to the playoffs as predicted, it will be the Div. I representative since it is the largest school in the district with 1,719 students. 

After Texas High, the magazine picks Paris, coming off a 3-7 overall record but with nine offensive starters and seven defensive starters returning. 

"Paris is young and athletic. They're inexperienced, but they've got some speed and some great offensive linemen coming back," Owens said. "Everybody else, I don't know that well because there is so much change taking place. Obviously, I'm very familiar with what Lindale has, and they're going to give people fits and be very competitive in this district."

The change Owens is referring to is three new head coaches in the district. This will be his first year in Sulphur Springs after leading Lindale to eight consecutive playoffs appearances. Lindale, meanwhile, has a new head coach as does Mount Pleasant.

Five the six teams have played in the same district the last two years. Lindale, meanwhile, is moving up from Class 3A and took the place of Greenville, which moved to District 10-4A.

But, Owens isn't concerned with those other programs. He is focused on getting his players ready, especially on the offensive side of the ball where only two starters return: center Jacob Jenkins and wide receiver Tyler Rhoades.

Without being able to run spring training this year because the coaching staff wasn't complete, Owens has used the athletic period, 7-on-7 football and the summer conditioning program to acquaint the players with his expectations and the schemes of offensive coordinator Jeff Riordan and defensive coordinator Steve Hale.

"We've got some big holes to fill, and I'm excited about our kids and where we are right now," the coach explained. "They're working hard this summer, and we've having between 70 and 80 show up at 6 in the morning four days a week. I'm excited about their work ethic, and when they come, they come to work.

"I hope we come out and are ready to go. The kids are fired up and excited about it."

Owens is close to completing the hiring process for his staff, which will be a milestone in getting ready for the upcoming season. That certainly takes precedence over reading a preseason magazine.

"I don't give that any weight. I rarely ever read the thing. I'll read it on the special articles on kids or something like that. But, I give no weight to it," Owens said. "It does promote our sport very well, and people are excited when that thing comes out.

"They're picking us third, so that just gives us some bulletin board material, and say 'Look here guys, let's do something about it.' So, I use it as motivation sometimes."

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