Temple Wildcats Football Team Begins Playoff Run With High Expectations
The Blue Front/White Back magic is close to a full resurrection on the football fields of Texas, and a win against the Tigers of A & M Consolidated Friday night at Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos could seal it.
It's only the first round of the playoffs, and a win tonight would only put the Wildcats one game closer to a state championship. The expectations are that high for the Wildcats this season, with running back and returning district offensive MVP Jeff Carr leading the rushing attack, bolstered by the TD machine Marques Hatcher.
That doesn't even scratch the surface when it comes to playmakers for the Temple Wildcats, because QB and Baylor commit Chad President is suiting up for what will be his final game(s) for the 'Cats. President didn't play in the district title-clinching season finale at Wildcats Stadium last Friday night, but after two full weeks of rest Chad is back and Head Coach Mike Spradlin says Chad is 100% healthy and ready to go.
A & M Consolidated, like Temple, didn't make the move to the newly-created 6A classification in 2014, and they were picked by some to win the 5A state title. An 0-3 start against terrific competition dampened some of that enthusiasm, but the Tigers are healthier than they've been all year, and they've got an offense that will spread out the defense, and a running back, Tyri Merchant, that has almost 900 yards rushing in just six games.
The Tigers come into the first round of the playoffs playing their best football of the season. They've outscored their last two opponents 130-14. Temple had a two game stretch in the middle of the season as dominant as that, but the 'Cats haven't put together a completely dominant 48 minutes of football in about a month. That being said, maybe we're just a little spoiled. After all, it's hard to find flaws or holes in this team.
The defense, under first year defensive coordinator Scott Stewart, has performed better than anyone expected at the beginning of the season, and after a turnover drought midway through the season, they've stepped up and played extremely physical defense over the course of the entire schedule.
Only a 49-48 loss to 6A Austin Westlake on the road keeps Temple from an undefeated season. That one-point loss came as the result of a botched snap on the potential game-tying PAT. That game is the last time this season we've seen someone put up that many points, and most of those scoring drives were relatively short due to Temple's struggles in the kick coverage following touchdowns.
Temple's achilles heel this season has been penalties. Jeff Carr has run to Dallas and back this season with all the yardage he's had called back. He's special enough of a young man that he doesn't need that extra jersey grab to take it to the house. There's been at least a half dozen runs of 35 yards or more called back when Carr's broken a big run.
The Wildcats' three-headed monster of a running attack can light up scoreboards up and down I-35, but it's the defense that will be needed to play its best football of the season in order for Temple to play long enough to hit I-35 North to Jerry World.
Also of note is that these playoff games will be the final Temple football broadcasts to feature Gene Pemberton doing color commentary. Gene's voice on Friday nights is as recognizable as the Blue Front/White Back pants themselves. Following 23 years of football officiating, Gene's been in the broadcast booth calling Temple football games for 28 seasons. He's seen more Temple football games than just about anybody not named Bob McQueen. Nobody carries their love for Temple football on their sleeves quite like Gene, and he's the embodiment of what's so much fun about high school football. It's been a real pleasure being in the booth next to him for the past two seasons, and although another voice will carry on his fine tradition, there is ONLY ONE Gene Pemberton, and I'm honored to have worked with him.
Tune in as the Wildcats make a run to a state title. Games are broadcast on K 101-7 and NewsRadio 1400 KTEM. You can also hear the games online and on the free Radio PUP app for tablets and smartphones. Should the Wildcats take care of business Friday night you can also hear the Temple High School Football Coaches Show Tuesday at 6pm on KTEM.