By TONY EIERDAM
Coming off a 58-0 victory last week, the Mineral Wells Rams will host Springtown will new-found confidence a team acquires after a win.
The Rams put together a shutout on defense, scored their season high on offense and scored on special teams in a complete-game effort.
Rams head coach Chuck Lawrence is hoping the squad can follow up on that effort with an upset over rival Springtown. He said practices have been upbeat all week.
The win also puts the Rams in the playoff hunt, albeit a long shot. MWHS would have to defeat Springtown and Kennedale and have a little help along the way.
“Practice has been good following the win, but honestly, it has been good all year,” Lawrence said. “Springtown is the next one up, and we have kind of had that attitude all year.”
Lawrence said a repeat of playing well in all three phases of the game would be necessary to defeat the Porcupines.
“There are three phases to a football game – offense, defense and special teams – and all three contributed to the win,” Lawrence said. “That’s what you strive for is to have all three phases be successful each week.”
Springtown (3-5, 2-1) is known for its offense and is averaging 464 yards per game, including a startling 200 yards per game on the ground. Its offense has produced 42 touchdowns in eight games.
The Porcupines are led by sophomore quarterback Landry Turner, head coach Brad Turner’s son who started at quarterback last year against the Rams.
Turner has completed 183 of 309 passes for 2,014 yards and 28 TDs. But he has also thrown 15 interceptions. Turner has three favorite targets in receivers Dylan Ray, Ryan Hester and Dillon Springfield. Ray leads the team with 43 catches for 449 yards and five touchdowns; Hester has the most yards with 488 on 38 catches including a team-high nine touchdown receptions; and Springfield has caught 38 passes for 374 yards and seven scores.
But the Porcupines are not a one-trick pony this year. Junior running back Ryan Snow leads the team on the ground with 743 yards on 145 carries (5.1 yards per carry), and Turner has carried 65 times for 477 yards (7.3 yards per carry). Sophomore running back Fisher Drewry has added 264 yards on 62 totes.
Lawrence said Springtown can be a hard offense to defend, especially when they spread the defense out.
“Springtown likes to spread out the defense, and if you spread out with them they will run the football,” Lawrence explained. “They run the zone read, counter and counter read, and they have a very nice rushing attack.
“They will also throw screen passes to the running backs and all of their receivers. This is a team that understands how to throw the football.
“They put together a nice offensive package, and they also do a good job running the ball. They also have a quick-paced offense – they get up to the line fast after a play – and they like to run as many plays on offense as possible.”
Turner impressed with his arm as a freshman last year, but this year he has added another dimension to his overall game.
“Landry is a pretty savvy operator and he understands what he is doing,” Lawrence said. “He is known for his passing, but I have been impressed with his running skills this year.
“He is the total package and they do a real good job with him. To stop them when they spread it out we will have to utilize our defensive backs in with stopping the run, and they have to get their reds and trigger on what they see.
“Springtown does a good job of staying balanced offensively, and as a result the defense is kept off balance.”
Lawrence said defensively Springtown bases out of a traditional 4-3 look. The Porcupines are led defensively by junior linebacker Chance Nelson with 49 tackles, including 39 solo stops. He has also recovered a pair of fumbles.
“They play a lot of two deep in the secondary,” he said. “They blitz a lot – take some chances – and they play a little man coverage at times.
“They took some chances against Kennedale (in a 56-28 loss on Oct. 11) and blitzed a lot. We are going to have to be on our toes with our blitz pickup.
“They will line up in different schemes and bring different people each time they blitz, and sometimes they will send a lot of guys.”
Lawrence said the Rams will have to duplicate their efforts from last week in order to beat the high-flying Porcupines.
“Coach Turner does a great job and they have a good football team,” Lawrence said. “We are going to have to play well in all three phases of the game in order to stay in the game and have a chance to win it.
“We will have to play a full ball game. We can’t make silly mistakes on special teams like we did last year when we played them.
“We have to be persistent, we can’t turn the ball over and we need to get some turnovers.”