The Orange Leader
BRIDGE CITY —
For the first time in the school’s history, Bridge City will be seeking the playoffs for a record fifth straight year after making it a record fourth straight last year with the leadership of Coach Cris Stump.
The Cardinals will look “to keep it alive at five’ as Bridge City will depend on a lot of youngsters along the way to make things happen.
Bridge City will depend on a “youth movement” as the Cardinals return just 12 letter winners, including four starters on each side of the ball, off last year’s 5-6 bidistrict playoff unit that finished third in District 21-3A with a 4-2 mark.
“We’re young in some areas but we also have some really good kids coming back to help lead the way,” said Stump. “Practices have been going really well. After we put those pads on last Friday, the kids have responded well and are getting after it in practice.”
Bridge City will scrimmage at Lumberton Friday starting at 8 a.m.
The Cardinals will also have to try to replace their top performer from 2012 in tailback Ashton Hunter, who tore his ACL during the offseason. Hunter dashed for 1,298 yards and eight touchdowns on 237 carries accounting for 53 percent of a offense that averaged just 227.4 yards per game.
“We’re going to miss the services of Ashton but we’ve got plenty of kids that can step in and do the job, we’re confident in that,” said Stump. “Jonah Lemoine has looked good and really busted his tail in the offseason. We’ve got a pretty good back right there and we have some younger guys we’re looking at too. We have some kids eager to rise up and meet the challenges ahead.”
Chase Shugart should be the man at quarterback. Shugart saw some time in that spot in a backup role last year as he was busy being a all-district safety selection.
“Chase has been impressive early on,” said Stump. “He brings some good versatility to the position. He’s got a motor, he throws well and he can tuck it in and run well.”
The Cardinals have a nice return in the trenches in the form of Jackson Roberts (6-0, 252). Keaton Langston, who had five catches for 77 yards and a TD, should see more touches. Josh Henry has looked pretty good early on at receiver.
“We’ve got some pretty good skill kids, it’s just of matter of when and where to utilize them,” said Stump. “Henry has shown a lot at receiver. We have the Hunter Uzzle kid that has the potential and mindset to be pretty good whereever we put him.”
Thomas Findley should provide some offensive punch as well as the kicker booted 20 extra points and a field goal.
Defensively, the Cardinals had a pretty solid 2012 campaign, allowing just 297 yards a game.
Bridge City will be anchored up front by the likes of returning all-district defensive end Josh Henry (6-2, 210) and defensive tackle Jordan Schamber (6-2, 245). Shugart could play double-duty with his skills in the defensive secondary.
The youthful Cardinals will be tested early with a stacked non-district schedule.
They will open up the season at home against Newton (Aug. 30), which is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A Division I by Texas Football Magazine. They will visit Class 4A Vidor (Sept. 6) which has made the playoffs three out of the last four seasons. They also have Beaumont Kelly (Sept. 13) at home and will also host annual playoff powerhouse Jasper (Oct. 4).
“Our non-district schedule is stacked again,” said Stump. “Playing those caliber of teams will only make you a better football team in the long run. We’re excited to go over to Lumberton Friday and get after it. We’ll get that first gauge on where we’re at and the kids will be excited to hit on someone besides each other.”
The Cardinals will open up their 21-3A campaign at home against Buna Sept. 27. Their road games include at early district favorite Silsbee (Oct. 11), Hardin-Jefferson (Oct. 25) and rival Orangefield (Nov. 8). They will host Hamshire-Fannett (Oct. 18) and West Orange-Stark (Nov. 1).