State ranked Raiders invade Prim Stadium

By Don Wallace, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 10, 2008 - Despite the lights, camera and national audience, a game is going to be played.

It's football Texas style and neither team should forget the reason for the hoopla. It's for gridiron gladiators to put on a show before a packed stadium on a cool September evening.

Wichita Falls is ranked No. 7 in the 4A poll, fourth in the Harris Ranking. Sulphur Springs is ranked 16th in some polls. The Harris Ranking has the Wildcats picked to win by eight points.

"Our kids have to get locked into football," Owens said. The coach said he had played on a televised game and said you really do not notice the cameras and surroundings, once you get involved in the heat of the game.

"If we are focused and locked it, we had better not notice cameras. Because we are going up against a very good team. We have a job and we need to execute the plans we have put in place," Owens said.

Tyrik Rollison of Sulphur Springs and Shavodrick Beaver get the focus of attention, both highly touted all-state quarterbacks.

The two are almost carbon copies of each other physically, both around 6-2, 190 with lazer arms and fleet feet. Beaver, who has commited verbally to Michigan, is a bigger threat to run than Rollison. But Beaver can still change the game with his arm as he uses some of the dangerous weapons at his disposal. Fans of Rider remember that last year he led the team to a 12-2 mark and within sniffing distance of a state trophy.

Rollison, also a top national recruit, runs a 4.5 time in the 40-yard dash and is considered a dual threat. For the year he has thrown for more than 600 yards in two games with eight touchdown passes. He is still being recruited by dozens of colleges, including all Big 12 schools.

"Beaver is the real deal, folks just don't hand out football scholarships to Michigan to just anybody," Owens said. "He has a great arm and is very accurate. He can play and he's not the only one they have.'

The coach continued, "The Ward kid (Eric Ward, No, 18) is like a mini-TO (Terrell Owens), he's going to Oklahoma. Their running back, Jurell Thompson, has signed with TCU, he's very good and plays running back and safety"

Owens said he is not only impressed with the talent on the team, but the overall attitude of the Raiders and their coaches.

"They play hard, they will get after you. They will go anywhere, they don't mind playing 5A schools," Owens said. "They played Cedar Hill last week and we're down 20-0 and came back and scored 27 points, but ended up losing. After us they travel down to Tyler to play John Tyler. They are a talented bunch of kids who don't mind competing."

"They are talented on both sides of the ball, they have big time players," Owens said. "They have defensive players who are hard to move. They have defenders who can bring the wood and don't mind hitting you. They play football with a passion."

Owens said the team swarms the ball on defense and go for big plays on offense.

"They have so many playmakers, like Ward, Beaver and Thompson," Owens said. "At times they get a little impatient going for a big play, because they have the big play ability. They look for the plays because of the playmakers. We must be focused in on them and make tackles."

The Wildcats need to be ready for a turnover or mistake to slow down the Wichita Falls attack.

"Turnovers will always be important to me. We had four turnovers last week and still won, but I am not happy about that many turnovers," Owens said. "This will be a shootout. The team with the fewest turnovers and mistakes will win this game. It's going to be a fun atmosphere. We need to play within ourselves. We have to be balanced running and passing and make the unbalanced. We also have to keep them from hitting some big plays on us."

Owens said the Wildcats are as healthy as they have been in recent weeks.

Colton Lee was released from the doctor.

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