Battle of cats when Sulphur Springs and Whitehouse collide

By DON WALLACE, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 4, 2008 A two-pronged attack.

That is the game plan for Sulphur Springs when they take on the Whitehouse Wildcats Friday on the road at 7:30 p.m.

Sulphur Springs met Whitehouse last year, losing both games, but this year the blue and gold Wildcats have a more balanced attack.

"Last year we threw the ball more. We had to throw it. Whitehouse put us in some bad situations. I think Tyrik Rollison had four of his 10 interceptions in games against Whitehouse, this year we have a more balanced attack," said Sulphur Springs head football coach Greg Owens.

The Wildcats of Sulphur Springs opened the year downing the Wildcats of Paris by a 48-20 score at Gerald Prim Stadium. In that game the Sulphur Springs squad rolled up more than 500 yards of total offense.

Rollison, one of the highly ranked quarterbacks in the nation, completed 80 percent of his pass. The fact he was 20 of 25 for 275 yards for four touchdowns and no interceptions did not surprise anyone.

The running game netted 240 yards for the Wildcats, led by 157 yards on 13 carries for senior speedster Ryan Young. Young is a weapon the Sulphur Springs attack did not have last year.

The offensive line composed of starters - Jake Russell, Mason Y

Barbo, Colby Suggs, Alex Peek and Beau Carpenter did a fine job on both pass protection and run blocking.

"Young ran well, he got over 100 yards and did not play after mid-way through the third quarter," Owens said. "He gives us another big weapon."

The Whitehouse team is not without weapons of their own. All-state quarterback Brady Attaway is back as a senior starter. In the 52-35 loss in their opener to 5A Garland Naamen Forest, Attaway threw five touchdowns passes and three interceptions. For the game the Wildcats were stymied by seven turnovers.

"Whitehead head coach Randy McFarland is more involved in their defense and does a fantastic job," Owens said. "He takes care of the seasonary and everything.

The coach continued, "Their offensive coordinator is a guy I went to school with, Reno Moore. I know him and McFarlin very well. They pattern their offense after South Lake Carroll. It's a quick pass game, it's a spread but their are five or six varieties of the spread. Whitehouse uses a short passing game, precise and not moving their quarterback around much. It's simple blocking up from from a run blocking scheme. They have some good looking wide receivers to throw it to."

Attaway earned statewide honors and twice led attacks which netted wins for the Wildcats against Sulphur Springs in the 2007 season.

Owens thinks he knows a way to disrupt the passing attack directed by Attaway.

"If you give him pressure and get in his face he can be flustered," Owens said. "He doesn't like to get out of the pocket. He has a good arm, not a great arm. But he is very accurate. He puts the ball where it needs to be, he's very smart. This is his third year to start. He's an extension of coach Moore. They take what you give them, where they feel it is soft coverage."

The Sulphur Springs defense had a good opening night performance against Paris. The Wildcats yielded 20 points and 209 total yards. Linebacker Tyler Higginbotham led the squad with eight tackles. Jameison Dial had two quarterback pressures, Ryan Miller had five tackles and one sack. Darrell Franklin picked off a pass.

The Sulphur Springs defensive line stayed fresh with 10 players seeing time on the field in the opener. Starters were Colton Nash, Miller, J.B. Beachem and Cody Rushin.

The Whitehouse defense is led by returning starter: Seth Cashion, a 6-1, 220-pound defensive back. Quincy Aldridge, only a sophomore, this 6-2 free safety has already had some big plays in his career. Jermaine Kennedy is a 6-1, 180-pound cornerback with talent.

"They base from a 4-3 defense. We don't know if we will see an odd front or an even front," Owens said of the Whitehouse defense. "McFarlin has a history of being an odd 5-0 front guy. We are not for sure right now which one they will use Friday. We have to prepare for all of them. They don't like to blitz a lot they are a sound fundamental team."

The coach continued, "Whitehouse likes to bend and bend and tighten up near the goal line. They want you to make a mistake against them. They may give up the short stuff and let us nickel and dime our way down the field."

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