Hico entertains Tolar tonight in both the Cross Timbers Football Marquee Match-up and the 2007 Hico homecoming.
The Tigers are 1-1 after last week's 41-0 mauling of DeLeon, a District 12-A rival of Tolar. The Rattlers, meanwhile, are 0-2. Tolar was shut out by 2A power Itasca, 35-0 in its opener, and ran out of bullets in a shootout with Chico last week, falling 49-41.
Despite the winless start to the season by Tolar, Hico Head Coach Wade Williams knows the Tigers will have their hands full with the Rattlers.
“That was a close ballgame in the third quarter,” Williams said of Tolar's loss to Itasca. The Rattlers trailed IHS 6-0 before the Wampus Cats ran away late in the game.
Williams noted Tolar's balanced offense as his primary concern.
“They run the ball pretty well, throw it pretty well and don't commit many turnovers. They have good ball control,” he said.
The Rattlers base their offense out of an I-formation, and will also utilize the offset-I, according to Williams. He said Tolar also likes to run the spread at times, showing a little bit of everything.
As for the Rattlers on defense, they have shown to align differently based on the offense across from them.
“When you go under center, they go into a 50,” Williams said, meaning the Rattlers will line-up with five down linemen. “As soon as you go to shotgun or show any kind of spread, they get into a 4-3 split.”
Williams said Tolar is known to stunt a lot on defense, and has the ability to create turnovers.
Hico will be missing a key piece to its offense tonight, as tackle Sam Jones is out due to trouble with a trap muscle in his neck. Jones came off the field in the first quarter of the Tigers' win over DeLeon, and isn't expected back until next week. Russell Goff replaces Jones in the line-up.
Williams continues to be concerned with the injured knee of sophomore quarterback Westin Williams. The QB suffered the injury against Hamilton in the season opener. He returned to the field later in that game, and has not missed any time since, but it has an affect on his ability to scramble.
As far as the homecoming festivities, Williams said he is always worried about his squad losing focus.
“We preach to them at the start of the week about staying on task,” Williams said. “We just have to deal with what goes on and try to re-focus the kids on Friday.
Hico fell to the Rattlers in Tolar last year in a 26-25 nailbiter.
Kickoff in tonight's battle is set for 7:30 p.m. at Tigers Stadium.
Brad Keith is the sports editor at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241, or by e-mail at brad.keith @empiretribune.com.