District play can always present its own set of challenges which are different from the opening games of the season.

District play can always present its own set of challenges which are different from the opening games of the season.

For the No. 4 Sulphur Bulldogs, they are more than familiar with these obstacles as they are set to begin the defense of their district championship.

At 7 p.m. Friday night at Calvin Agee Field, Sulphur will welcome the Bethel Wildcats to town for the district opener as both teams enter with 3-0 records.

Sulphur’s three wins came against Madill, Davis and Cache. Bethel has wins against Little Axe, McLoud and Tecumseh.

The Bulldogs have been dominate in this series in recent years, but last year they got a scare at Wildcat Field, as Sulphur managed to pull out a 42-35 victory in a game which was played in the pouring rain.

The thought isn’t lost on Bulldogs head coach Jim Dixon as he said his team needs to be at their best to compete with the Wildcats. 

“This is an excellent football team,” Dixon said. “This is the best team they have had at Bethel in quite some time, and we have to be ready to go out and compete at a high level to get the win. Last year we were able to hang on to get the victory at their place. They have their confidence built up, and they have great coaches and great athletes. Plus they are averaging about 45 points a game, so we have to be ready.”

According to Dixon the Wildcats possess plenty of talent at all the skill positions.

“Bethel runs a spread offense, and they try to isolate your defense in the open and strike for a long play,” Dixon said. 

“They have a quarterback that runs their offense well, and he throws the ball with effectiveness, and they’ve got a couple of good running backs and several excellent receivers that could cause us problems. They throw the football on about 70 percent of their offensive plays.”

Sulphur is coming off a win last week against Cache that lasted only until halftime with the score sitting at 14-3 in favor of Sulphur.    

“I would like to have gotten that game in.” Dixon said. “We are still making adjustments on a number of positions, and we needed to play that entire game to see where we were. We don’t have anyone sitting out, and everyone appears to be pretty healthy.”

“But we have got to continue to improve on what we do and how we do it,” Dixon added. 

“I was pleased with the way we played against Cache in spite of the miserable conditions. This week we will need to turn things up a notch and really start playing our best football because this is the beginning of district play. All the games count big-time from here on. Defensively we have to limit their big plays, and offensively we will continue to run the ball as much as possible. Thankfully we have the personnel we need to get some passing offense going, and I expect we will need everything going for us this week.”