District 10-4A preview: Cardinals, Tigers favorites in tight loop

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Without question, District 10-4A Division I was a competitive race last year as it ended up being a battle between the Bridge City Cardinals and the Silsbee Tigers.

The Cardinals wound up having the final say, defeating the Tigers 42-41 in dramatic fashion to capture the outright crown.

The Cardinals, led by Coach Dwayne Dubois, rolled to a perfect 5-0 10-4A mark, went on to finish 9-3 overall and made the third round of the playoffs, the deepest trip the program has had since 2005.

There is no question that the Cardinals and Tigers will be the frontrunners again but the other four teams in the district should certainly make a strong push with key players returning to the fray.

Coach Dubois and Co. welcome back 12 starters, nine of them off a defense that made tremendous strides by late in the 2016 campaign.

Offensively. The Redbirds return just three starters. Gone are 1,000-yard backs Cayce Draper and Patrick Morris along with quarterback Byron Trahan.

The Cartdinals do have speedy scatback Max Baker back, who had 935 yards and 12 touchdowns along with the elusive Hunter Denton (480 yards) and fullback Andy Lara (420 yards).

The biggest key for the Cardinals will be trying to replace all five starting offensive linemen that were so stellar. Senior quarterback Caleb Dubois will look to anchor the ship after returning from an injury that kept him out last year as the Cardinals will look to roll again in their Slot-T Offense.

The Cardinals defense will look to mature, especially with the return of all-district selections Ethan Hamm, Stetson Wilson and Eziquiel Mendez up front along with Blake DiChiara at linebacker and Justyn Romero in the secondary.

Silsbee’s (6-5) cupboard is far from bare for second-year Tiger coach Randy Smith as the Tigers return six starters on offense and seven on defense. They still have dangerous weapons in 4A state 100 and 200-meter champion in receiver Kalon Barnes along with backs Adonis Thomas and Aaron Sells and receiver Tre’ Lowe.

If new quarterback Jacob Collins steps in and plays well early, the Tigers will a load to stop.

The Tigers should be more stout on defense with the return of all-district linemen Johnathan Hageon and Marquell Hale along with all-district linebackers Thomas, Adam Carrell and Spencer Uribe.

The Navasota Rattlers slipped to a 2-9 record but still squeezed into the fourth-place playoff berth. What a fall it was for the Rattlers in Coach Patrick Goodman’s first year after replacing Lee Fedora. They returned 10 starters last year from a team that had reached the regional semifinals the year before but struggled mightily. Navasota captured state titles in 2012 and 2014. The Rattlers had won at least nine games a season from 2007 to 2015.

The Rattlers look for a bounce back with 13 starters returning, seven on offense and six on defense.

Senior quarterback Jeb Malek returns to lead the Rattler offense.  He will be looking for wideouts Ronnie Jackson and Lawson Hughlett.  Jordan Jefferson will lead a young line.

Jefferson will also be key along the defensive front with Jaycob Steels while Tyron Preston is back as a all-district linebacker.

The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears (5-6) will look to make the postseason for the fourth time in the past five years after nabbing the third-place berth last season. LC-M will be seeking its first playoff win since 1997.

The Bears could certainly be playing with a chip on their shoulders by being picked fifth this season.

Coach Randy Crouch will see the return of five starters on both sides of the ball and will have three stout offensive weapons back in versatile back Chris Winters, receiver Katon Brown and fullback J’Lon Douglas, who is “rough-and-tumble” on both sides of the ball after being named the district Defensive MVP at linebacker last season.

Expect Dameon Morris and Ethan McCollum to get their share of touches as well.

Douglas will once again look to spearhead the Bear defensive arsenal along with all-district pick Truman Franklin up front while Winters and Mark Netherly, both all-district picks, will help anchor the secondary.

The Huffman Hargrave Falcons ( 4-6) are looking to recover after failing to make the postseason last year despite have 17 starters that returned.

They return 12 starters, including 1,300-yard rusher Camron McMahan. Sophomore quarterback Justin Shively looks to be the answer at quarterback as he will look to toss it to the likes of Casdon Rice, Donavan Gray, Noah Thomas and A.J. Johnson.

The defense is senior-laden led by all-district defensive end Tyler Price, linebacker David King and defensive backs Blake Boss and Jacob Hortch.

The Cleveland Indians (4-6) captured four of their five non-district games last season, but struggled in 10-4A play, going winless.

The Indians return 10 starters, six of them on defense.

Quarterback Jett Hendrix is possibly the best dual-threat in the district and will look to get some more help on the offensive side this year by backs Monroe Harding, Dylan Reeves and Montrail Searles.

David Reeves and Kobe Gipson will return along the defensive front as the Indians will look to improve drastically on defense.



  1. SILSBEE: This year’s version of the Tigers should be on the prowl after a year under Randy Smith’s reign. The Tigers found their balance after a tough early start in 2016 and ended up winning four of fiver district games before bowing out to eventual state champion Carthage 34-30 in bidistrict. The Tigers have the most talent and speed at the skill positions than any other team in the district and should be the early-on favorites.
  2. BRIDGE CITY: The Cardinals took 10-4A by storm last year, going a perfect 5-0, including a dramatic district-clinching win over Silsbee plus a three-round trip to the postseason. The Cardinals will lean on an experienced defense that returns nine starters in the early going as they will turn to a youth movement on offense. BC has solid skill folks back and if a totally revamped offensive line improves weekly, look out again 10-4A.
  3. LC-M: The Battlin’ Bears will certainly be in the mix with several key starters back, especially at the skill positions. LC-M has five starters back on both sides of the leather and their district schedule has them in the friendly confines of Battlin’ Bear Stadium three times with Silsbee, Huffman and Navasota venturing in and a rugged non-district schedule should have them ready.


  1. NAVASOTA: The Rattlers have a lot to prove after slipping to 2-9 in 2016 after a 12-1 run in 2015. The Rattlers fell in the bidistrict round in coach Patrick Goodman’s first year. A program that won state titles in 2012 and 2014 will look to turn its fortunes back around quickly with the return of 13 starters and should be the darkhorse to possibly finish higher.
  2. HUFFMAN: Last season was the first time in eight years that the Falcons missed the playoffs, which certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of a squad that was young. With 11 starters returning, the Falcons will be in the hunt, especially with three of their district games at home. Road trips at both Bridge City and LC-M could tell the tale.
  3. CLEVELAND: The Indians started with a 4-1 mark last year in non-district before running into a 0-5 wall in 10-4A play. The Indians should certainly be able to move the ball but stopping folks could be a tough in one of the most competitive 4A Division I districts in the state.