We have officially reached the halfway mark in our series breaking down the Sulphur Springs Wildcats 2022 football season. After five non-district games and a bye, we return with their sixth game of the year, and their first game in the month of October.
Week 6 vs Community
Friday, Oct. 7, the Wildcats are back in action and back at home for the second game in-a-row. Coming off a bye week, the Wildcats will have a full extra week to prepare for this district opener home match against Community.
The Community Braves have been the definition of consistent over the last two seasons, going 5-6 in each of them and even winning two district games in each of them. Despite making the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, Community will be looking to have their first winning season (better than .500) in the Maxpreps era, which dates back to the 2004 season.
For Community, the change of district could prove to be beneficial for them, as they have generally performed better in non-district games than in district play. They will also have experience playing in their favor in 2022, as they return almost all of their statical leaders from the 2021 season.
At quarterback, they will be relying on senior River Medlin. Last year, as a junior, Medlin had his first taste as QB1 and did so fairly efficiently. Medlin completed 54% of his passes and threw twice as many touchdowns (9) as interceptions (4), giving him a QBR of 105.5.
As a team who relied heavily on their running game, the Braves also return Brandol Hernandez and Quinton Hall, their two leading rushers from 2021. Hernandez led the way with 557 yards on 76 carries, averaging an impressive 7.3 yards per rush. Hall was right behind him, racking up 454 yards on 57 carries, to an even more impressive eight yards per attempt. Both Hernandez and Hall had 10 rushing touchdowns on the year, while Hernandez also had one receiving touchdown.
Speaking of receiving, the Braves will be returning their two leading receivers as well, Charlie Ott and Hayden Tanner. Ott led the way with 292 yards on 16 catches, while Tanner had 269 yards on 11 catches. The two combined for three receiving touchdowns.
The Braves will look to rely on veteran leadership on the defensive side of the ball as well, starting with Hall who we mentioned above. Hall was also the teams leading tackler with 80 total tackles on the season. Hall also led the team with three interceptions and had two pass deflections.
Right behind him were Ott and Tanner who combined for three interceptions and three pass deflections. Hernandez led the team with six pass deflections and will be back in the secondary as well.
While rushing the passer wasn’t Community’s strong suit last year, they do return all but two of their 10.5 sacks from a year ago. As well as 26 of their 29 QB hurries. With a full-year of experience under their belts, they could see more success in the pass rush this season.
For Sulphur Springs, this could be a matter of stopping the run game and controlling the pace offensively. Last season juniors Riley Hammons and Nick Cantillo brought a lot of production in the run stop, as did fellow juniors Brayden Morris, David Campbell and sophomores Austin Chaney and Cameron Jefferson.
Morris also did a good job getting to opposing quarterbacks, leading the team with four QB hurries. Against a team who may try to run the ball and run as much of the clock as possible, stopping the run could prove to be huge for the Wildcats in their district opener.
This match against Community is also the last one against teams who finished under .500 over the last few seasons for a few weeks. The next two games on their schedule are against Mabank (12-8) and Paris (15-10-1) so setting the tone with a strong performance or even a win would be huge for Sulphur Springs in this one.
Stay tuned tomorrow for our preview for their road match against Mabank.
*All stats are provided by Maxpreps
Other articles in this series include: