Paris High School football

Paris senior defensive lineman Quin Dangerfield (59) bursts through the line of scrimmage and pursues the quarterback during the Wildcats’ homecoming win over Terrell earlier in the season.

The No. 5-ranked Paris Wildcats football team has responded in a big way after dropping a close season opener at Pleasant Grove. Since the first game of the season, Paris (2-1) scored dominant wins at home over Class 5A Terrell on homecoming night and recently defeated state-ranked Gilmer of Class 4A, Division II by a final score of 37-20 on the Buckeyes’ homecoming night.

In their most recent outing at Gilmer, the Wildcats knew the game was big, but the moment was not too big for them, which has been a big source of encouragement for the team.

“The most important thing from Friday night was they took the challenge to be the team to come out and be the most passionate, physical and ready-to-play at a high level,” Paris head football coach Steven Hohenberger said. “We could have finished it a lot sooner, though, we had a couple of miscues and several penalties in the first half, and fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half. But, they were resilient. They didn’t lose their composure, and they continued to play the game and get the win. It gives us a lot of confidence to see that we can be a good football team, but we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us, which is good and bad to look at.”

For the third time in four weeks, Paris will play on the road — one of the team’s six road games out of 10 regular season contests.

“We didn’t plan on this when the schedule came out two years ago, but it’s a really neat thing,” Paris head football coach Steven Hohenberger said. “We open district on the road against a really good football team in Melissa, so our routines and how it is to travel — despite some time differences with each road trip — they will be a little more familiar with the plan to get themselves ready to go. We’re excited that they will be used to that plan, and hopefully they’ll be used to it.”

The Wildcats march onward to face Class 5A Mount Pleasant, who is undefeated and defeated Paris’ crosstown rival North Lamar 45-14 in its most recent game.

Hohenberger believes the Tigers are on the rise, and will be a big test for his squad.

“Coach (Ritchie) Pinkard is in his second year there, and you can just see they’re becoming better and better and they are believing in the system he and his staff have put into place,” Paris head football coach Steven Hohenberger said. “They’re young this year, he lost a lot of seniors last year, but he’s got some really good young talent that you see all over the field in different positions. They’re as big and tall as any team we will face this year. They’re very similar to the way Gilmer looked aside from their attack philosophies on offense and defense. It’s going to be a formidable challenge. They’re 2-0, it’s their homecoming — we’re back to back homecoming games for teams — we’re excited to play a team the caliber of Mount Pleasant.”

Keying in on the Tigers’ talented skill players and limiting the big defensive front are things Hohenberger wants to see his team succeed in if the team seeks its third win in a row.

“With the Mount Pleasant Tigers, it starts with their running backs,” Hohenberger said. “They rotate in two quarterbacks, and both give a great challenge with what they do. When you play Mount Pleasant offensively, we’ve got to contain their skill players and running backs.

“Defensively, they’re very active up front and very big. Their defensive line is very big, and we’re going to have to control the line of scrimmage to move the football.”

The Wildcats and Tigers will face off at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Mount Pleasant.

Geoff Heppes is sports editor for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6967 or at geoff.heppes@theparisnews.com.

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