Ring, Ring, Ring: Wildcats get wake-up call in scrimmage vs. Greenville

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

Aug. 17, 2008 - GREENVILLE - The sound many SSHS fans heard Saturday morning was the alarm clock going off, because the Greenville Lions gave the Wildcats a wake-up call in their first scrimmage of the season.

The Wildcats went into the scrimmage at Cotton Ford Stadium with a big reputation, but left it with a glass-half-empty outlook.

Sulphur Springs outscored Greenville four touchdowns to three overall, but the Greenville starters put up all three TDs, while SSHS starters scored twice.

The intensity and consistency shown by the Wildcats wasn't what head coach Greg Owens was looking for from a team coming off a 9-1 record and with heady playoff aspirations.

"I think we're reading too many press articles about ourselves and reading Texas Football and living on last year," Owens said. "We can't live off last year, and I hope that's one of the lessons these guys learned today.

"We didn't play to our level, to what our standard is. I'm upset about that, but we needed it. That brought us down to earth, and now we had better go back to work this week."

The Wildcats did have flashes of their potential, with quarterback Tyrik Rollison completing 17-of-25 passes for 367 yards and running for a touchdown. Running back Ryan Young had 96 total yards and the Wildcats came up with 11 plays of more than 20 yards.

But, Rollison was also sacked six times, the Wildcats lost two turnovers and had two drives fizzle inside the Greenville 20-yard line.

Defensively, the Wildcats did not do a consistent job of stopping the run. Greenville's option-based offense ground out 255 yards on 53 carries, almost 5-yards per carry, and the Lions' starters converted 7-of-11 third-down tries (64 percent). SSHS forced three fumbles, but came up with just one turnover, that by defensive tackle Tadarius Johnson.

"I liked defensively when we got our motor running and we got some stops. We've got to play with energy on defense," Owens said. "We've got too many standing around waiting for someone else to make a play instead of everybody doing their job.

"It'll sink in on film day. We've got something to look at, we've got it on film. We can show them what they need to improve on."

Greenville came right at the Wildcats on the opening drive, going 70 yards to paydirt in 11 plays, covering the last six on a quarterback keeper.

The Wildcats answered on their first drive, as Rollison broke free on a 30-yard touchdown. The drive was bolstered by two catches from Jace Jackson of 10 and 23 yards. Jackson finished with six catches for 100 yards.

The Wildcats' next drive was halted by a 10-yard holding penalty.

Sulphur Springs' second string scored on its first drive as quarterback Johnny McSheffery scored from two yards out. The drive's biggest play was a 48-yard catch-and-run by Bryant "Day Day" Jackson.

Quarterback Colton Lee added a TD trifecta for the signal callers when he scored from 24 yards out after connecting with Anthony Mills for 27 yards and McSheffery for 20.

That ended the controlled scrimmage part of the morning, then the teams went into a full half played with a running clock.

The Wildcat defense set the offense up with great field position after consecutive losses on tackles by McSheffery and linebacker Tyler Higginbotham.

The Wildcats went immediately to work as Rollison hit Shane McQueen on a 38-yard bomb. But, the drive stalled after a sack and two straight incompletions when Rollison was forced to scramble.

Greenville then embarked on a 79-yard TD drive in which the Lions converted all three third-down conversions.

Sulphur Springs countered with a 70-yard drive of its own capped by a 30-yard TD catch by McQueen.

But, Greenville answered on a 47-yard TD run by the quarterback on a bootleg on third-and-7.

The Wildcats drove down to the 13-yard line before time ran out.

"We had moments there, but we came in inconsistent," Owens said. "This last week, we were inconsistent. We talked about it. We put pads on and we're up one day and we're down one day. We've got to learn to be consistent in the little things.

"We're going to be fine, but we've got to get to work and make those things happen.

He wasn't saying anything that the players, others coaches and fans didn't see.

"I can't say one kid was exceptional, because I don't think anybody was today. As a unit, the same thing," he explained. "We had spurts where we looked really good, but that's not good enough.

"My first question was, 'How was it today, guys?' Their answer, 'Bad.' I agree. They know what their standard is. We weren't there, and they understand it."

NOTES: The teams also worked some special teams, with Colton Nash and Rollison punting for the Wildcats. Three kickers, Rodrigo Larios, Fernando Arellano and Austin Brewer converted 5-of-6 extra points. ... Defensive players who had tackles for losses were Higginbotham (two), McSheffery (two), Jimmy Villa (who later hyperextended his elbow), Diquince Morris (whose tackle on third down ended one Greenville drive), Jake Russell, Cody Rushin and Jayden Wallace.

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