Sulphur Springs ready for Tiger hunt

By DON WALLACE, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 21, 2008 - The stage is set for a spirited cat fight Friday night.

The Sulphur Springs Wildcats will be taking the field at Terrell against the Tigers.

The game is billed as the second scrimmage of the young football season. But this action will do much more as the Wildcats are ready to set the tone for another successful season, after going 9-2 last year.

Sulphur Springs scrimmaged Greenville on Aug. 16 with results which did not pleased Wildcat head coach Greg Owens.

"We got some work done. But it was not up to our standards. We were kind of embarrassed. But it was good for us to be humbled," Owens said. "This scrimmage will be different. "

Owens said Monday's practice was sluggish at the start, but ended on a strong note. Later Monday, the team and coaches had film study for specific individual assignments.

"Tuesday we worked on some game situations," Owens said. "We lined up in goal line work from the 10-yard line and in. It was good competition, out of five plays the defense won over the offense three to two."

Owens said the practice was designed to get the team in game-like situations and see how the offense and defense would react.

"It's situations we will face in a game," Owens explained. "Inside the 20-yard line some teams change coverages. You typically come up against more man-to-man or press coverage. You are kind of limited vertically. But we still feel like we can be successful and run just about anything."

The Wildcats are ready to face a new opponent after weeks of drills against each other.

"Going up against ourselves is easy. We want to see someone new we can focus on," Owens said. "Terrell is talented, they have good skill kids. I don't know much about their linemen or how big they are. I do know they will line up in an I-formation with a tight end. We will have to be a physical up front."

District 13-4A opponents Texas HIgh, Hallsville and Longview will use variations of the I-formation.

Defensively, Terrell is expected to use a 3-4 front with some blitz packages and three or four different coverage packages.

"We have to get ready so we need to see anything they may use like a blitz," Owens said. "We need to be prepared for an odd front. It will be good for us to see a team like Terrell."

The Wildcats have been making improvements along the offensive line in recent practices. Owens said the team had given more effort and were picking up blocking schemes better than earlier.

Move-in running back Ryan Young, a 5-8, 180-pound transfer student from Alba-Golden was also drawing strong reviews after recent practices.

"Ryan is a good pass protector, he's really doing well on the blitz pickup," Owens said. "He's very talented and we're excited about having him on the team as a running threat. He catches the ball well, he has good vision and blocks well."

The Sulphur Springs defense is also making strides at coming together as a unit.

"We lost five of our front seven from last year," Owens said. "We've challenged some players and they're coming around. This scrimmage will tell us where we are. We're seeing improvement in practice, they're learning to play at a different level. Dillon Verner and Colton Nash are the only two returners.Tyler Higginbotham had a good scrimmage and is playing well. That group has got to mesh, we lost some big leaders from last year."

The Wildcats also continue to fill holes left on special teams by the graduation of kicker, punter and deep snapper.

"It's still a battle. We will will find someone to do it. We have been working on pressure situations. To see who can respond with the game on the line," Owens said. "Our PAT (point after touchdown) protection is good.

NOTES - Coach Owens met Wednesday with an official of ESPN concerning the Sept. 11 game against Wichita Falls Rider.ESPN was surveying field locations for some seven cameras they plan to use from different angles at the game. ESPN is also set to bring in portable lighting to augment the current lights at Gerald Prim Stadium.

The Sulphur Springs defense is also missing lineman Ryan Miller (shoulder)and linebacker Jimmy Villa (elbow). Both will probably miss the Terrell scrimmage.

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