SS vs. Whitehouse: The Sequel

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 15, 2007 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats lost the battle against Whitehouse on Sept. 7. They can win the war on Friday.

Sulphur Springs and Whitehouse will face each other for the second time this season when they meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hanby Stadium in Mesquite in the bi-district round of the Class 4A, Division II playoffs.

Whitehouse (9-1) won the second game of the season, 38-22, at home. It ended up being the only game that Sulphur Springs (9-1) lost.

SSHS head coach Greg Owens said neither team has changed much in their approach, just in their execution.

"Both of us are still doing the same thing," he said. "I think both of us are better at executing now because it was the second game of the year, and I think we've really made drastic improvements since then. Our kids are seeing that on film. We weren't as crisp as we are right now."

In that game, Sulphur Springs fell behind 18-0 but came back to take a 22-18 halftime lead. Whitehouse, though, scored three times in the second half and junior quarterback Brady Attaway ended the game with six touchdown passes.

Owens said slowing down Attaway and his top receiver, 6-2, 200-pound senior Bart Henderson, will be a top priority.

"They've added a few little things, but mainly they're trying to get the ball to their playmakers, and No. 15 is their top playmaker," Owens said of Henderson. "They give him the ball on the pop and just try to get the ball in his hands. We've seen him go over two defenders to catch the ball. He's a big-time playmaker who can go get the ball.

"There are really no tendencies for them. Whatever you give them, they're going to take. They will throw it deep, no matter what."

The showdown between Attaway and Sulphur Springs quarterback Tyrick Rollison will pit two of the best junior quarterbacks in the state against one another. Rollison has thrown for over 3,300 yards and 34 touchdowns, while Attaway has amassed 2,600 yards and 33 TDs passing.

The Wildcat defense has allowed just 13 points per game over the last three games, and will need to keep up that intensity to slow down a Whitehouse team that is averaging over 30 points per game this season.

"Defensively, I think we're playing harder, kids understand better, and we've grown up," Owens said. "We've got 10 games under our belt, and that just helps these kids.

"We feel like this is two good teams going against each other, and whoever plays best will win. We feel like we've got the opportunity to take a step in the playoffs, and we feel good about it."

Whitehouse defensively haven't shown a real tendency to bring a lot of pressure on the quarterback, but will probably instead have someone mirror Rollison to limit his scrambling opportunities. Last week, Rollison ran for almost 100 yards against North Lamar.

"We don't feel like they're really going to come after us," Owens explained. "They haven't done that all year. They're more like one of those bend-but-don't-break defenses."

Sulphur Springs' playmakers will try to break the Whitehouse defense. Four SSHS receivers, Jeff Beck, Chris Thompson, DaQualin Evans and Jace Jackson, have all caught at least 41 passes, have at least 650 yards receiving and scored six touchdowns.

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