Wildcats open at Atkins Friday

ATKINS — Both the Hector Wildcats and the Atkins Red Devils are worried about big plays heading into Friday’s season opener at Sorrels Stadium at Lemley Field.

You want to get a few for yourself while limiting the other team as much as possible. That’s football year-round, but Red Devils head coach Tommy Cody said it’s even more important in the first game of the season.

Why? Rust.

“The first game always comes down to big plays and turnovers,” he said. “It pretty much always does. Everyone is going to be rusty. Everyone is going to miss some blocks and make some mistakes, and the team that doesn’t give up big plays and makes some of their own is usually the team that wins. It’s hard to go on those long, 10-play drives. That’s kind of the big deal. Can we limit them and get a few of our own?”

About the Red Devils

Atkins returns quarterback Eli Roberson. The Red Devils have traditionally fared well with a second-year quarterback under center. Last year, Roberson threw for 164 yards against Hector — his first start of the season. Roberson went on to finish the year with 1,682 yards passing and 16 touchdowns.

The last time Atkins had a two-year quarterback, Seth Haney set the single-season touchdown record at Atkins with 35. Cody said it’s just good in his system to have an experienced quarterback.

Poteete worried about Atkins’ speed at wide receiver combined with Roberson’s cannon arm.

“They are very athletic out wide and the quarterback throws it really well,” he said. “They have good running backs, and if we don’t play good defense they could hit you with one play and score.”

The trick to slowing down the Red Devils’ offense could be in pressuring the quarterback, Poteete said.

“We’ll have to give him a lot of different looks,” he explained. “We’ll try and give him one look and play in another, try and cloud up his read. At the same time, we have to get pressure on him. He’s an experienced kid, but I believe in our front seven. We can bring certain guys from certain places, and that’s what we have to do. We can’t let him sit back there because he will pick us apart.”

About the Wildcats

Cody knows he’ll have his hands full with the Wildcats.

“They are really good,” he said. “I think they are really very good. They have a lot of athletes on their team, and their coaches do a good job with them. They play hard.”

Cody said it’ll be tough dealing with the one-two punch of quarterback Gunner Garrison and wide receiver Caleb Profitt.

“Their quarterback throws a good ball,” Cody said. “They have a couple that can really catch it, but they have one, Profitt, who is an excellent player. He’s good, fast, can catch it and runs good routes.”

Profitt hauled in 41 passes for 718 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago.

On top of that, Cody said Hector running back Ty Day poses a threat on the ground.

“They are big and huge up front,” he said. “All around, just a good team.”

The gameplan is no secret. Cody said Atkins will do what Atkins does.

“We’re just going to do what we always do,” Cody said. “We’ll throw it around a little bit, but the big deal will be if we can run the ball with a little success. Then that opens a few other things as far as the passing game goes.”

Like Cody, Poteete said Hector will have to run the football if they want to win.

“A lot of our system is predicated on running the football,” he said. “We have to execute and make minimal mistakes.

Last meeting

Atkins defeated Hector 43-13 last season, but the scoreboard doesn’t tell the full story. The Wildcats were within 10-6 at halftime. The Red Devils returned a kick for a long touchdown and Hector had their answering touchdown called back for a penalty. From there, the momentum shifted and Atkins was able to mount a big win.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.