Match-up of 1-0 teams overshadows Owens' return to Eagle Stadium

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

Oct. 18, 2007 - Round 2 of the chess match between Wildcat head coach Greg Owens and the team he used to coach comes up Friday. But more importantly, it is a game between two teams that are 1-0 in District 11-4A.

Owens was head coach at Lindale for nine years before returning to his alma mater in February 2006. Most of the coaching staff he had at Lindale is still there, including his former offensive coordinator Mike Meador, who is now head coach.

It will be the first game Owens has coached at Lindale since he left when the teams kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Eagle Stadium. Last year, the Eagles beat Sulphur Springs 36-13 at Gerald Prim Stadium.

"It'll be a little different this week. I still have a great relationship with those coaches and players," Owens said. "Overlooking all that stuff, it's a big ballgame.

"We feel like the person who wins this will have a toe in the door toward the playoffs, so that's what we're trying to do. That's the big picture, with all the other stuff as subplots."

Lindale shocked much of East Texas last Friday with a 30-14 thrashing of Paris, which is acknowledged as one of the most athletic teams in the area with four Division I college prospects.

Following the game, five Paris players were suspended from the team. Meanwhile, Lindale (4-2) has won four consecutive games, though the Paris victory was the first over a Class 4A team.

"Their confidence is pretty good," Owens said. "You can look at who they played, and it really doesn't matter. They feel good about themselves and executed last week against a district opponent that many ranked as probably the most athletic in this district."

The Eagles operate out of a shotgun formation with junior quarterback Nate Simmons pulling the trigger. He has completed 85-of-149 passes for 1,237 yards, nine TDs and three interceptions.

His favorite targets are receivers Logan Lawrence and Travis Rhea, who have combined to catch six of his TDs.

But, Lawrence and Rhea are two of five Eagles who start both ways. Owens is hoping the Wildcats' hurry-up Nascar pace tires out Lindale.

Sulphur Springs has been a quick-starting team, scoring first in five of its six games and holding a 157-56 scoring advantage in the first half. Owens believes that trend needs to continue against Lindale.

"I think this week we need to have a fast start. We need to get on them early, knock them around a little bit, get physical with them," he said. "So, we're going to try to cause turnovers and make things happen and play at that high level. We're still looking for that perfect game of four quarters and playing at that level the whole time."

SSHS quarterback Tyrick Rollison is completing almost 70 percent of his passes and is averaging about 320 yards passing per game. He has thrown 22 TDs and six interceptions.

Meanwhile, the SSHS defense has produced 23 take-aways, including six last week. Lindale, meanwhile, turned the ball over five times against Paris and still won by two touchdowns.

"You can't underestimate Lindale," Owens said. "They go into the game with an underdog mentality, and we see on film that they get after it. Their kids are going to play hard and they're going to execute."

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