(Orange, Texas)

September 25, 2013

Bears, Pirates ready for 20-4A to crank up

Van Wade
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — No team really has stood out from the rest during the non-district part of the season for District 20-4A, which is a good sign for both the Vidor Pirates and the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears as both teams dive into district action Friday night.

The Pirates (2-1) got a much-needed bye week last week while the Bears (0-2) missed out on their final non-district tilt against Coldspring due to the horrendous weather.

When the Bears tangle with the Livingston Lions  (0-2) at home Friday night, it will be three weeks since LC-M has played a game.

“We sure thought we had a window open to get that game in with Coldspring but it wasn’t meant to be,” said Bear coach Randy Crouch. “We had a good week of practice leading up to it too and were looking forward to it. We just need to move on from it and get ready for district. I think it will be a real competitive league and we would like to get off to a good start.”

The good news for the Bears is that the Lions will also have waited for three weeks due to their game with Silsbee getting called off last week.

“Livingston will be coming in here ready to play some football because they were in the same boat we were,” said Crouch. “We’ve had some good battles over the last several years and I don’t expect it to be any different.”

The Bears will look to crank up an offense that is averaging 210.5 yards a game in their first two contests.

LC-M has received a nice effort from tailback Jalen Griffin, who has bruised his way to 192 yards on 37 totes.

Bear quarterbacks Caleb Harley and Jake Sonnier have combined to complete 17-of-42 passes for 205 yards.

Dalton Doyle is the leading receiver with seven catches for 103 yards and a TD. He also had a huge 64-yard punt return in a 34-20 loss to Silsbee.

Livingston has struggled out of the gate in losses to Woodlands College Park and to Dayton as Coach Randy Rowe had to replace 17 starters off last season’s playoff unit.

“Just like us, Livingston has played two excellent football teams,” said Crouch. “They lost some key folks from a good team last year but they will compete. They don’t do anything special, they still like to try to run right over you and through you.”

The Bears fell to the Lions 42-35 in a shootout in Livingston last season.

Coach Jeff Mathews’ Pirates can’t hardly wait to return to the field after they fell to Clear Brook 33-29 in the waning seconds in their last game.

“We should be 3-0 right now, but that’s okay, the kids had a good week of practice last week and they know they have to be prepared when they go to Nederland Friday,” said Mathews.

They won’t need much motivation as they head to preseason district favorite Nederland (2-1).

“I’ve been involved with Vidor football for almost 21 years and have yet to witness a Vidor win at Nederland,” said Mathews. “We’re 2-4 against them the last six years. The four losses were by a touchdown or less, so we’ve been right there. The thing with Nederland is that they are so disciplined and they never make mistakes and they’re quick to jump on what you do wrong. That has made them successful year after year and they’ve had so much talent too along the way.”

Pirate running back Sage Smith has certainly made his mark on opposing defense. He’s chewed up more than 200 yards rushing a game as he has 617 yards and 10 TDs already.

“We know they will be keying on Sage,” said Mathews. “We know we’re going to have to get other kids involved. We’ve just got to be careful with the football.”

The Pirates, who had three costly turnovers against Clear Brook, will look to change that against the always opportunistic Bulldogs.

After getting canned by Crosby in their opener, the Bulldogs responded well in wins over Goose Creek Memorial and Angleton as they look to defend their 20-4A crown.

The Bulldogs are paced offensively by tailback Kendrick Hopkins. Quarterback Preston White has stepped up and played well along with receiver Colton Kimler.

The Nederland defense is powered by defensive end DeShawn Washington and tackle Caleb Malveaux.

“Washington and Malveaux are beasts,” said Mathews. “They’re big old boys but they’re so darn athletic. We’re going to have to limit our mistakes. In the past, you look back and there are eight or 10 plays that could’ve made the difference for us.”

The Pirates, who have made the playoffs the last two years by finishing second, fell to the Bulldogs 20-13 in a nailbiter in Vidor a year ago.

In other 20-4A action Friday in Beaumont, the Central Jaguars (1-2) will take on the Ozen Panthers (0-3) for some bragging rights.

The Jaguars, after defeating Port Arthur Memorial to open the season, has back-to-back losses to West Brook and 31-7 to West Orange-Stark.

The Panthers are still trying to find their footing after getting outscored 103-21 by the likes of West Brook, PA Memorial and Cedar Hill.

Perhaps the biggest surprise has been Port Neches-Groves (2-1). The Indians have notched wins over 21-3A favorites Silsbee and WO-S and led 4A fourth-ranked Summer Creek at the half before falling in the second half.

The Indians will make the trek to Lumberton to face new head coach Larry Haynes and the Raiders (0-3), who have losses to Goose Creek Memorial, Barbers Hill and Silsbee to start the season.