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LC-M football preview: Bears seeking third straight playoff spot

Bears will be sporting new offense in seeking third playoff berth in a row

 

By Van Wade

The Orange Leader

 

LITTLE CYPRESS – After back-to-back playoff appearances, the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears can help its program achieve something it has never done this 2015 season – to make the playoffs for the third consecutive time.

Before they make history, the Bears have a lot of work ahead of them.

“The kids came in here and had a good summer and the practices have been good,” said LC-M coach Randy Crouch. “They’re showing a lot of enthusiasm and they’re ready to learn. We’ve got a few key kids back with experience. We did lose a big senior group, so some of our youngsters are having to pick things up pretty fast.”

The Bears played well in their newly formed district last year. They went 5-6 overall but 4-2 in a competitive District 10-4A Division I, which also features Jasper, Silsbee, Huffman, Bridge City, Cleveland and Splendora.

“The big thing this year is that our league is going to be way more competitive,” said Crouch. “Jasper is the returning champ and they have a ton returning. Huffman will be stout again. Silsbee will be a big factor after playing a bunch of sophomores last year. Bridge City will be on the upswing with Coach (Dwayne) DuBois and Cleveland has a bunch of athletes and a new coach. Every week is going to be a battle.”

The Bears are changing up their offense as they will turn to a more bruising style Slot-T offense instead of the spread and I-formation.

“We’re not just going to go out and run, run, run,” said Crouch. “We still want to be a little versatile. We just think going to a more run-oriented offense will be good for the personnel we have. We feel like we have some good backs and we have the potential to utilize some ball control and have better possessions.”

Coach Crouch likes what the Bears have in the backfield.

Junior quarterback Beau Bickham will be handling the snaps. The backs are built for speed and power as Chris Winters and Sam King both return with experience after playing behind 1,000-yard back Robert Green last season.

“We like what those guys can bring to the table,” said Crouch. “Beau has handled things nicely in practice and is picking up the new offense well. Winters and King are both so solid and dependable. We’re counting on them to play really well.”

The Bears will see Tyler Doyle back at center along with fellow lineman Stuart Viator and tight end Mitchell Lee back as well. Jim Jones, Louis Zuniga, Garrett Johnson, Mike Davis and Cameron Kemp will also be in the trenches.

“We’re going to be smaller up front this year, for sure,” said Crouch. “The offensive line, that’s where the biggest adjustment comes with this offense. Your stances change, the way you block changes. That’s still a work in progress that will definitely get better with time.”

Isiah Riggins and Phillip Hudson along with Lee, will be handling the passes that come their way.

Defensively, the Bears have several outstanding returners back.

Kade Bland will be back in the defensive trenches after a All-District campaign.

“We’re expecting big things out of Kade,” said Crouch. “We think he’ll be a nice leader on the field and off and the kid can really play.”

Jeremiah Armstrong, Daniel Killian, Truman Franklin and Parker Linscomb will be busy up front as well.

Bay Quebodeaux will be back at one linebacker spot after a 2014 All-District campaign. He will likely be joined by Alex Reed and Hunter Fontenot.

Drake Trawhon and Payton Choate will headline the secondary as they bring back experience. Trey Guillory, Josh Leonard, Drake Dietz, Westin Floyd and Kane Williams will all look to make an impact.

All-in-all, it’s a season Crouch and the Bears look forward too.

“There are a few changes, especially with the offense that we feel will make us both more physically and mentally tougher,” said Crouch. “We’ve got some big tests early on with our scrimmages and non-district schedule. We will definitely be a learning process early on. The kids have been putting forth an excellent effort, we just need to put it all together and get better each week we take the field.”