Wildcats get second shot at Waterloo

By Staff
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
THARPTOWN – As the 2006 football season enters the home stretch, playoff fever is in full swing as players, coaches and fans alike excitedly discuss their team's postseason prospects.
The Tharptown Wildcats, who will not be eligible for a playoff berth until they join a region in 2008, realize that their season will end on November 3 no matter what, but head coach Dale Overton said his team should have no problem staying motivated.
"One of the things I've really harped on is how important it is for us to finish strong," said Overton, whose young team has posted a somewhat surprising record of 3-4 thus far in their inaugural season on the varsity level. "I feel like we have improved every week, and I would hate for us to take any steps backward at the end of the season after everything these guys have accomplished."
With three games to go, the Wildcats still have a chance to finish with a winning record. They must win all their remaining games, beginning with tonight's rematch against Waterloo at Brooks High School in Killen.
"You know, before the season started my main goal was for us to be competitive," Overton said. "When I look back now and see that we've had a chance to win every game we've played, it's easy to forget that we're playing with eighth, ninth and tenth-graders against teams who have juniors and seniors.
"The way our guys have set things up for next year, we really won't have any excuses. We'll have some juniors, and we'll be expected to perform. That's why it's so important for us to finish this season off in a positive way."
Three of Tharptown's four losses this season have come down to the wire, including an 18-12 overtime loss to Waterloo in mid-September.
The Wildcats led that game 12-6 in the fourth quarter before the Cougars rallied to claim the win.
"Our guys know that we let one slip away that night," Overton said. "We had dominated the game defensively, but we made a couple of mistakes down the stretch that hurt us. We had a bad snap on a punt, and Waterloo ended up coming back to beat us.
"Those are the kinds of mental breakdowns we have to avoid. When it's close to the end of the game and you're getting tired, that's when mental mistakes will happen. We have really stressed to our guys how important it is to finish games strong."
Overton said the Wildcats must also do a better job running the football if they hope to win tonight.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Cagle threw for 320 yards last week, but Tharptown struggled to gain yards on the ground in a 16-15 loss to Mount Hope.
"We were pretty banged up last week," Overton said. "We had a couple of guys injured on offense, and we had a hard time running the football. We threw for more than 300 yards, but if you can't get three or four yards on the ground when you really need it you're going to have a hard time winning. [Mount Hope] just pinned their ears back and came after us. We need to have a little more balance."
Jarrod Seay and Justin Graves both missed last week's game with injuries, but Overton said both players are hoping to be back on the field for tonight's game.
"I know all of our guys will give maximum effort, because that's what they've been doing every week," Overton said.
Kickoff for tonight's game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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