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Rattle on: Collin County enjoys extended bye week as playoffs near
After opening the 2012 Minor Professional Football League season with seven wins in eight weeks, the Collin County Rattlers are enjoying a break from the gridiron.
The Rattlers are in the midst of their third bye in the last four weeks.
“They needed it,” said Tim Smith, Collin County head coach. “We’ve been together since August through training camp and everything else, so I think the break was healthy for them.”
Collin County was slated to return to action last Saturday against the Kaufman County Ryders, a win that goes down in the record books as a 2-0 forfeit with the Ryders having ceased operations.
“About two weeks after we played [Kaufman County], they were supposed to go down to San Antonio and couldn’t make the trip,” Smith said. “After that, they decided to cease operations.”
The Rattlers had been aware of Kaufman County’s circumstances for a month and had time to plan accordingly. The result was two weeks away from action.
That didn’t entirely mean taking an eye off the football field, as Smith and several players ventured to Temple this past weekend to scout the San Antonio Warriors against the Temple Panthers. The Warriors have been a standard bearer for the MPFL since their arrival, capturing the league championship in 2011 and stringing together a season that netted the team the No. 1 spot in the Semipro BCS national rankings.
In scouting a potential playoff foe, the Rattlers witnessed a 46-39 San Antonio win.
“[San Antonio] is a really good team,” Smith said. “They’re very well-organized and have a high-flying offense. The defense has its holes, but that is the offense we will have played, should we get the chance to play them later on.”
The Warriors are 7-1 on the season, while the Rattlers chug along as the league’s lone unbeaten at 8-0. The first two months of Collin County’s inaugural run through the MPFL have marked vintage Rattler football, outscoring the opposition, 302-52. Ranked No. 4 in the Semipro BCS, the Rattlers have the inside track on home-field advantage with their closest competition, the West Texas Drillers, losing April 14.
“Because they’ve been playing so well, we gave the guys a week off from practice,” Smith said. “We know how they manage their time off the field and that they’re in the gym doing private workouts and that quarterbacks are getting together with the receivers.
“I gave them two weeks off to spend time with their families to work, rest and keep in shape and then we’ll get back to practice next week.”
That break gives the Rattlers a chance to heal up.
The most notable concerns are receiver Alex Martinez, who sustained an ankle injury March 31 against the Texas Cavalry and should be ready after the bye, and offensive lineman Kevin Simpson, whose MCL injury could sideline him until the postseason.
Following the time off, Collin County won’t have to travel far, with a pair of home games to close the regular season, potential home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and, should they make it, the MPFL Championship Game in Dallas.
The Rattlers return to action at 7 p.m. May 5 from Kimbrough Stadium against the Shreveport-Bossier City Knights and host the Cooke County Outlaws May 12 – teams the Rattlers toppled by a combined margin of 83-0 earlier this season.
The second go-around against the Knights will be especially pivotal for running back Greg Green, the team’s electric playmaker who is working his way back from injury.
“Greg is a little out-of-shape coming off the injury,” Smith said. “But what he does not only on the field, but with our young running back Michel Sohi, is helping to make him a better back.
“He’ll help out the offense more and more as we go on.”
Smith emphasized the team’s need to retain its focus amid another successful regular season as the quest for its first league championship continues.
“This team is so close and the guys who have been on the team in the past realize this is the best team they’ve been a part of,” Smith said. “I think it’s filtered down from the veterans to the rookies as far as what’s at stake, so I don’t see anyone taking their eye off the ball from here on out.”