Wildcats look to duplicate last year’s effort against Whitehouse

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

Sept. 6, 2007 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats put together their best half of the season last year against Whitehouse. SSHS head coach Greg Owens is looking for the same execution and effort this week.

The Wildcats travel to Whitehouse tomorrow for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

Both teams are coming into the game with 1-0 records. Last year, SSHS beat Whitehouse 42-36 after taking a 35-13 first-half lead.

"We played a great half last year, and we hope we can mimic that thing this year," Owens said. "The kids are confident and feel good about this week."

Last year's loss turned around Whitehouse's season. Coach Randy McFarlin brought up sophomore quarterback Brady Attaway from the JV (along with a few other players), and they responded by winning seven straight games, going three rounds deep in the playoffs and finishing with a 10-3 record.

Attaway (6-0, 170) is back at the reins this year after throwing for 2,000 yards in 2006. In Whitehouse's 32-24 opening win against Forney, Attaway completed 21-of-36 passes for 239 yards and five touchdowns in leading the Wildcats in their second-half comeback.

"They're doing a good job over there, throwing it around and running a precise passing offense," Owens said. "I think anytime somebody can throw the ball, it can put you in a bind because they always have a shot.

"They're a confident group that went three deep last year with a lot of those young kids."

Owens also has a long history with McFarlin, who coached at Daingerfield when Owens was head coach at Lindale. The two teams met almost annually either in the regular season or playoffs.

Then, there is the SSHS-Whitehouse match-up, a series in which Sulphur Springs has a 15-2 won-loss advantage in games that have many times taken on a surreal quality.

"We've got some young kids, and you wonder how they're going to respond going on the road and all those sorts of things. But, I think they'll be OK," Owens said. "It's a long trip, so it'll be tougher for us to stay focused, and Whitehouse traditionally has been a tough place to play with rain and fog and scoreboards going out. It's almost a Halloween night when you go there and play."

The Wildcats will need to stay focused to stop Whitehouse' vertical passing attack. Owens believes Sulphur Springs defensive line of Jamal Freeman, Rodney Evans, Tyler Francis and Colton Nash should be able to put some pressure on Attaway. The Wildcats registered four sacks in last week's 31-14 victory over McKinney.

"For us defensively, it will be challenge for us to face another passing team. I really like our front four against their linemen if we can get in there," Owens explained. "They don't run as many screens and things like we do - it's more of a downfield passing scheme. They hold onto the ball a little bit longer than we do, so hopefully we can get in there and disrupt some things. We had four sacks last week and hopefully we'll get a chance to get some more this week."

Defensively, Whitehouse plays a basic 4-3 with a bend-but-don't-break attitude.

"They're going to make you be consistent in what you do. They're going to give you some short things and hold on and hope your patience wears out," the coach said. "Hopefully, it won't. Hopefully, we'll be patient enough to methodically move it down the field and get in a groove."

Last week, the Wildcats accumulated over 500 yards of total offense.

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