Coming off a gritty 34-7 victory in Abernathy, the Wildcats are seeking to follow that up with another stingy defensive outing against the Bushland Falcons. After finally containing a powerful rush attack, the Cats must now focus on slowing down a pass-happy Falcons offense.
The Falcons run the spread offense similar to what the Cats work with, and they also have a highly-touted Division I prospect under center. Six-foot five senior Taylor Cornelius possesses the same type of abilities that fans see from Ben Arbuckle on a weekly basis.
“They look just like twins out there,” said Wildcat head coach Chris Koetting. “[Cornelius] is very good at scrambling around and finding the open guys, just like Ben [Arbuckle].”
Cornelius exploded for 421 passing yards and six touchdowns in the Falcons’ 46-27 runaway victory over Pampa. He already has 1,175 passing yards and 12 touchdowns on 100 completions through four games.
The Falcons are returning 20 lettermen from last year’s 5-7 season, including senior receiver Brian Gillette. He’s positioned himself as Cornelius’ main target, racking up 348 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season.
The Falcon run game is led by Taylor, Ian Cannon and Tate Smalligan. The trio has combined for 410 yards on the ground.
Although the Wildcat defense will be facing a different type of offense, they’re set on playing with the same type of aggressiveness that we saw against the Antelopes.
“Since we know how it feels to be aggressive and the results it brings, we’re going to make it part of our way of playing from now on,” said Wildcat lineman Johnny Swires.
The Wildcat offense will look to duplicate last season’s performance against the Falcons. They piled up 570 yards and converted 33 first downs on their way to a 41-20 win at Falcon Stadium in 2012.
They’ll have to figure out a more mature defense, led by an experienced secondary. The Falcons front seven will be backed up by 2012 first-team all-district selection Colter Cornelius and second-team honorees Andrews and Barnett.
Bushland opened the season with a one-point loss to Borger and followed that up with a 35-21 win in Perryton. They’ve split their last two games against Pampa and Dalhart to stroll into town with a 2-2 record.
The Falcons are hoping to continue the momentum they built up from a strong end to last season. After starting the season 1-6, the Falcons strung together four straight wins to finish last year’s regular season.
Kick-off between two of the Panhandle’s most explosive offenses is set for 7:30 tonight at Wildcat Stadium.
Photos courtesy of Alan Hale