By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Out of the blue, Temple reemerged last season.
After a 1-9 season in 2010, the Wildcats won five straight games to end the regular season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 in Mike Spradlin’s first year as head coach.
With a strong senior class, led by Syracuse-committed quarterback Zach Allen, SMU-bound offensive lineman Freddie Johnson and a host of other Division I caliber athletes, the Wildcats’ turnaround is in full force.
“We got here and they were hungry,” said Spradlin, who came to Temple following a five-year stint at Abilene Cooper. “Our guys, they’ve bought into everything that we’ve asked, they’ve bought into a work ethic and an attitude and the result.”
Spradlin appears to have U-turned a proud Wildcats program that went 35-77 with one playoff win in 11 seasons under three different head coaches. If the Wildcats pick up a second-straight playoff berth this season, Temple, a two-time state champion, would become just one of three teams in the state to notch at least 40 playoff appearances, joining Amarillo (50) and Plano (46).
With Allen, Temple is poised to do just that. The third-year starting quarterback combined for 2,400 yards of offense and 15 total touchdowns, including 1,671 yards and six touchdowns passing with just two interceptions.
Allen, though, is not alone as an offensive threat.
Senior running back Gaylon Sanders led the district last season with 1,517 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. Receiver Keith Buhl led the Wildcats with 24 catches for 553 yards and six touchdowns.
But for all the offensive weapons, the Wildcats have had to rebuild an offensive line around the 6-foot-2, 298-pound Johnson and 6-5, 282-pound junior prospect Darius Joiner.
After giving up 315 points last year, including 113 in the first two games, Temple’s defense, led by third-year starting nose guard Troy Healy, an all-district second-team selection last season, has some ground to make up in order to better compliment the Wildcats’ offensive firepower.