Photo by Alan Hale
Coming off their most balanced offensive display of the season, the 5-1 Wildcats are set to take their first step toward capturing a district championship. The Cats are seeking revenge against the defending district champs, as they host the Fritch Eagles tonight at Wildcat Stadium.
Like last season, the Eagles limped their way through a 1-4 non-district schedule. Despite their slow start in 2012, they went on to knock off the Wildcats 21-20 and streak their way to a district title.
Although the Eagles are only returning 12 letterman from that squad, the Wildcats are not taking them lightly.
“We’re not overlooking them,” said Wildcat head coach Chris Koetting. “They’re the defending champs. I don’t think getting fired up for this one will be a problem.”
In last season’s matchup, the Eagle defense kept the Wildcats off balance by crowding up the secondary and leaving just five players in the box. Wildcat receivers struggled to create space throughout the night and the gusty winds didn’t do the Canadian passing game any favors.
Koetting and the Wildcats will be looking to offset that by featuring more of a run game this time around.
“We weren’t ready for what they did last year,” said Koetting. “We have to be able to run the ball.”
The Wildcat run game seems to be peaking just in time, as Canadian ball carriers combined for 174 yards on the ground last Friday against Pampa.
The Eagles have featured a limited passing attack through their first handful of games, and the Cats are zoned in on negating their run game. Fritch will likely be without their top play-maker, Andrew Reynolds. The versatile senior wide receivers has been absent from the Eagles lineup due to a nagging injury. Senior runningback Daniel Clark will shoulder most of the load behind Eagle quarterback Ryan Blakely.
The Wildcat coaching staff has opted to go with a four down lineman set tonight. The same type of formation that held a powerful Abernathy rush attack to just 50 yards on September 20.
The Eagles’ lone victory came against lowly West Texas 25-7. They’ve been outscored 158-15 in their four losses to the lights of Dalhart, Sunray, Stratford and Abernathy.
The Wildcats will try for their fifth consecutive victory, with the Eagles flying into town to kickoff district play tonight at 7:30.