Wildcats have nice record, but everything starts over on Friday

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

Oct. 11, 2007 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats go into Friday's district opener with the best record among 11-4A teams.

SSHS head coach Greg Owens knows, though, that it doesn't matter.

The Wildcats (4-1) will host the Mount Pleasant Tigers (3-2) in their annual grudge match at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gerald Prim Stadium.

The Wildcats have won the last four meetings between the arch rivals, including a 31-28 victory last year when SSHS went into the game with a 1-4 record. That's why when these two teams play, records don't count for much.

"The players understand that we're 4-1 and that give you some confidence, but at the same time it doesn't matter," Owens said. "Everybody's goals are to go to the playoffs and win a district championship, and those are our goals, too.

"This is a big one, it's a big week for everyone in the district, especially for us and Mount Pleasant because we both feel like we're strong playoff contenders. We need to get this one under our belt, like we were fortunate enough to do last year."

The match-up will be between two totally different offensive philosophies. The Tigers play a veer offense, sometimes going with a pair of tight ends. The offense is designed to keep the game close, eat up the clock and wear out defenses.

Of Mount Pleasant's five non-district games, only one was decided by more than one touchdown.

Sulphur Springs, meanwhile, uses a no-huddle, spread formation that has generated an average of 40 points per game and favors the pass over the run about 63 percent of the time.

Mount Pleasant has thrown the ball 40 times this season. Sulphur Springs averages 41 attempts per game.

"It'll be two different teams facing each other," Owens said. "They're a ball-control offense. They want to run it down the field, get the first down. They're trying to keep our offense off the field."

The MP quarterback, Terrell Howard, and fullback, Kendrick Walker, are the Tigers' two top rushers with almost 600 yards between them. But, MP rotates a lot of players into the backfield running behind an offensive line that has four players over 265 pounds.

When they do throw it, they like to go to 6-0 speedster Trentson Hill, who has caught just six passes, but has scored four touchdowns and is averaging 35 yards per catch.

Defensively, MP is allowing 19 points per game behind a quick, athletic secondary and linebacking crew.

"We've got to be able to stop them and also put up some points not forcing it, just doing our thing and wearing them down with our offense," Owens said.

For the Wildcats, junior quarterback Tyrick Rollison is completing over 70 percent of his passes for more than 1,700 yards and 20 TDs. Four receivers have caught at least three TDs apiece. The Wildcats haven't turned the ball over in their last two games.

Another low-turnover game can go a long way toward starting district off the right way.

"At 0-1, you start feeling the pressure and what it's going to take. You start thinking about tie-breakers and other scenarios. We don't want to get into that," Owens said. "We want to control our own destiny all the way through, and we have the opportunity to do that by taking care of the football and doing things right.

"It's a big ballgame for us. The kids prepared well for us this week, and everybody's healthy."

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