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Cardinals to face gritty Center bunch

BRIDGE CITY — After collecting their first district title since 2002, the Bridge City Cardinals will be honing in on their first postseason win since 2005 Friday night when the 10-4A Division I champions take on the Center Roughriders in the 4A Division I bidistrict playoffs at 7:30 p.m. at Splendora High School.

The Cardinals (7-2) have certainly been on a tear, winning five straight games to take the 10-4A crown.

They will certainly be facing a Center (6-4) squad that is probably better than their overall record indicates. Center has been outscored 366-238 for the season.

The Roughriders competed in a very rugged District 9-4A to take the fourth-place spot and their schedule has been one of the toughest in the state.

In non-district, Center fell to powerful 4A units Gilmer (70-21) and Gladewater (56-15) and lost to 9-4A juggernauts Carthage (42-16) and Henderson (56-0). However, in their last regular season game, the Roughriders toppled 9-4A top seed Kilgore 40-39. Center had its bye week last week.

The Roughriders like to spread teams out with their passing game, sparked by quarterback Kyle Parks. Parks has completed 148-of-235 passes for 1,872 yards to go along with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.

He has three solid targets in the forms of receivers Octavias Evans (66-852-6), Jaterius Evans (28-500-5) and Kaleb Parks (17-224-1).

Center only averages about 90 yards on the ground. JaCarlos Hall leads Center in rushing with 368 yards and a TD on 92 carries while Kyle Parks has 290 yards and 13 TDs on 146 totes.

The Roughriders will face a Cardinal defense that is allowing 335.8 yards a game.

The Center defense will look to contain a Bridge City running game that has shredded opponents, especially in 10-4A play.

In the last three games, the Cardinals have averaged almost 500 yards a game and are averaging 404.9 for the season behind a senior-led bull-dozing offensive line.

The Cardinals had three backs go over 100 yards again in a 56-14 romp of Huffman last week.

Fullback Cayce Draper went over the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight year last week with 126 yards at Huffman. Draper now has 1,010 yards for his senior campaign. However, the Cardinals suffered a blow during workouts Monday as Draper suffered a fracture in his foot after a weight fell down on it. He will miss Friday’s game for sure.

Both Patrick Morris and Max Baker eclipsed the 100-yard mark last week and each one of them has over 600 yards for the season. Speedster Hunter Denton is also a huge factor in the backfield, at receiver and in the return game.

Cardinal quarterback Byron Trahan has been impressive toting the ball of late and has caught opposing defensives in a trap with accurate passing as well.

The winner of the Bridge City-Center bidistrict battle will face either Houston Yates (7-3) or Bay City (6-4) in the area round next week.