Owens: Expect anything from a Paris team in a must-win situation

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

Oct. 25, 2007 - Sulphur Springs head coach Greg Owens had a concise but all-encompassing directive to his coordinators this week: Expect anything.

The Wildcats will host a Paris team that has everything going against it right now, so Owens expects Paris to hold nothing back when the game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gerald Prim Stadium.

The Lamar County Wildcats have lost three consecutive games, including their first two District 11-4A contests to Lindale and North Lamar. After starting the season with high expectations and four Division I recruits on its roster, Paris coach Travis Smith has suspended at least six players for disciplinary reasons from a team that stands at 3-4 overall.

Owens knows that Friday's game is a must-win for Paris.

"We don't really know what to expect," Owens said. "They're a talented group that had to remove a few kids for discipline reasons. They have their backs against the wall, so we're preparing for them to come out fighting."

Paris has had major problems on offense the last three weeks when they've scored just 34 points. Paris had less than 100 yards of total offense against North Lamar last week, but it appears they have moved from a spread offense back to an I formation to better utilize the size of their offensive line and the speed of their running backs.

Paris has had problems throwing the ball, completing just 1-of-5 passes for minus-3 yards last week as they alternate junior quarterbacks Quin Rollerson and Jon Mark Abbey.

But, they have some explosiveness in tailback Courtney Hill, the defending district champion in the 100 meters. He has ran for over 700 yards and seven touchdowns this year. He will be even more dangerous if All-American offensive tackle Stephen Good returns this week. The 6-6, 305-pounder has missed the entire season after shoulder surgery, but has reportedly been cleared to play this week.

"We're really not sure what we're going to see offensively from them," Owens said. "They went back last game and got in more of a power offense and got away from the spread stuff. They've got some big kids and a lot of speed."

For that reason, Owens said the Wildcats have been focusing on their own game plan this week - execute on offense and win the turnover battle. Currently, the Cats are plus-16 in turnover ratio.

"We don't know what we'll see or what to expect. We just know what our game plan is with our kids," Owens said. "We've got to execute and play at a high level.

"We've got do what we do, do a good job at it, play hard and take care of the football. We feel very fortunate to be where we're at. The kids have had a good week of work, now we've got to continue to play at our level."

Sulphur Springs is averaging 465 yards per game this season, with about 342 of it coming through the air.

While it's too soon to start playing out all of the playoff scenarios, one Wildcat win in the next three weeks would likely put them in the playoffs. Paris, on the other hand, probably must win out to get into the postseason.

"They haven't quite met their expectations for the season. They still have some very talented kids over there, but the team chemistry hasn't been what the head coach wanted," Owens said. "They've got talent and they're dangerous."

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