By Jason Chlapek
Killeen Daily Herald
When the Harker Heights and Temple football teams met last season, they were two different teams on two different sides of the district standings.
Temple won the game, 45-42, but it took two overtimes to determine the victor, and the contest proved to be the Wildcats' closest decision during their 6-0 District 13-5A run.
This year, however, the teams are mirror images of each other as both teams boast 1-2 records in 12-5A play and 1-5 records overall.
Both Heights and Temple also are involved in a six-way tie for third place in the district standings with Belton, Bryan, Ellison and Shoemaker, but some separation will take place after the Knights and Wildcats square off tonight at 7 p.m. at Leo Buckley Stadium.
Heights does have the luxury of having faced the Wing-T offense when the Knights battled Ellison two weeks ago. And, while Temple runs the same offense as Ellison, Heights coach Todd McVey mentioned that the Wildcats do some things differently than the Eagles.
"Temple likes to get to the outside more than Ellison, especially with Lache Seastrunk," McVey said. "Lache can hurt you when he gets to the outside, but then you have to worry about their fullback [Derrick Davis], their quarterback [Kevin Lock] and their big-play wide receiver [Tevin Reese]. You can't key on just one player."
Seastrunk, who ran for 1,532 yards last season, has 676 yards and five scores on 85 carries. Reese (24-382, TD), who recently committed to Baylor, is the third-leading receiver in the district while Heights' reciever C.J. Akins is second (33-393, 4 TDs).
As far as the Knights' defensive game plan is concerned, McVey has one in mind.
"We have to keep their offense off the field by controlling the time of possession," he said. "When we win the time of possession, we increase our chance of winning the game."
Controlling the time of possession was exactly what Heights did against Belton last month – a 30-19 victory in which the Knights ran for a season-high 395 yards and a trio of touchdowns.
The win over Belton also was the contest in which Heights running backs Kerry Sloan, who's 821 rushing yards leads the district, and Deandre Jones each recorded season-high rushing totals with 231 and 139 yards, respectively, to account for all but 25 yards of the final team rushing total for that game.
Sloan, along with Jones, are enough to give Temple coach Bryce Monsen a degree of concern.
"Those running backs are great athletes, but they're not the only ones," Monsen said. "Heights is very talented on every position of the offense. Their running backs are quick, their linemen are big and physical, their quarterback can throw the ball well and their receivers are explosive, too. Their offense is hard to stop and we have to find a way to slow them down."
Last week, Shoemaker contained Heights in the second half by running man-to-man coverage and putting seven and eight men in the box.
While the Grey Wolves were successful in that scheme, winning 46-20, Monsen isn't quite sure what defensive scheme he will use.
"We'll see how the flow of the game goes and make adjustments from there," he said. "We can't pinpoint on just one area because they have the ability to hurt you in many ways."
While Heights is coming off of a loss, Temple snapped a six-game losing streak dating back to last year's 34-31 overtime loss to eventual state finalist Pflugerville in the bi-district round of the state playoffs. The Wildcats beat Ellison 49-42 at Buckley last Thursday.
"Anytime you can get a win in this district, it's a good thing," Monsen said. "Our district is so tough that you never have any guarantees."
About the only guarantee after tonight will be that one of these teams will remain in third place, while the other won't.
Contact Jason Chlapek at (254) 501-7590 or firstname.lastname@example.org .