By Justin Boyd
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS One word best describes the Harker Heights Knights' season to this point inconsistent.
The Knights (4-3, 2-2 District 13-5A) have yet to win back-to-back games in 2004 as they have followed each big win with an equally draining loss.
If that pattern continues, with the Knights coming off a come-from-behind 14-13 win over then co-district leader A&M Consolidated last week that put the team back in the thick of playoff race, the result of tonight's 7:30 matchup with the Temple Wildcats at Wildcat Stadium will be of little mystery.
Heights coach Ross Rogers hopes his squad can buck that trend and in the process notch his 200th career win.
"We've harped on that all week," Rogers said. "We've got to learn to play every week. If our kids don't understand that then we don't deserve to be playing for the playoffs."
While the Knights' season has literally been up and down, the Temple Wildcats year has mostly just been down.
In head coach Tam Hollingshead's first season, the Wildcats posted an 8-4 record and advanced to the regional round of the state playoffs, losing to eventual state finalist The Woodlands.
Year 2 of the Hollingshead era hasn't gone as smoothly, as Temple is 2-5 overall and 1-3 in district, with its lone district win coming in overtime against winless Belton.
"Its been a rough year for us up to this point," said Hollingshead, who coached Odessa Permian to a state title in 1991 and then served as an assistant coach at Texas A&M from 1994-2002. "I think our program is still a work in progress."
Last season, the Wildcats had a knack for winning close games. This season, Temple hasn't been able to score enough points to remain close to opponents.
The Wildcats have scored just 73 points this season. Conversely, Harker Heights has tallied 219.
"On offense, we have to eliminate mistakes," Hollingshead said. "That's been our problem all year. If we are gonna be successful, we need to move the ball and try and control the clock."
Quarterback Doug Streater leads the Wildcat offense, which also includes running back Ross Pospisil (134 carries for 669 yards and four TDs) and receivers JocQuise Brown (16 catches, 241 yards), Derrick Williams (9-176) and Jamaal Steamer (9-123).
While the Temple offense has had its struggles, Rogers expects a tough test from the Wildcat defense.
"They play real consistent, steady defense," Rogers said. "Nobody just blows them away. You have to earn everything you get on their defense."
The Temple defense kept the wide-open Bryan offensive attack in check last week, holding the Vikings to just 87 yards passing in a 21-17 OT loss.
Hollingshead knows his team will need a similar effort against Heights.
"Harker Heights is an explosive team offensively and they have good size up front," Hollingshead said. "We will have to play sound defense and try to stop (Donnie) Shorts and (Maurice) Lathan from running the ball, but then we can't allow the big play either.
"It will be a big chore for us to try and slow them down."
While the Wildcats' playoff chances may be extremely slim, Rogers said he expects to face a scrappy team that won't just roll over and die.
"I know the way coach Hollingshead coaches," Rogers said. "He's very accustomed to putting his teams in the playoffs. And that's the way he's coached his team this week. They think they are gonna win the last three games and get in. So we're not gonna catch somebody who is down and out. We're gonna catch a team that's gonna play their heart out.
"It's their homecoming and they're are gonna give us everything that they've got."
Contact Justin Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org