Local schools, athletic programs slowly looking to bounce back

Published 8:38 am Wednesday, September 6, 2017

By Van Wade

The Orange Leader


There is no question that Hurricane Harvey has put a halt to so many things in Orange County.

A lot of local schools are going through major cleanup operations as they are trying to get back operational so kids can get back as soon as possible.

It’s been a very tough ordeal throughout the county and that goes for coaches, athletes, bands, cheerleaders, and drill teams as their extracurricular activities have come to a halt.

As of Tuesday, the second week of the football season for local schools is a complete wash. Coaches from all across the area are not only cleaning out their homes, but homes throughout our communities.

Right now, Friday night football still seems in the distant future and coaches are just looking to create as much normalcy for their families and their athletes.

West Orange Cove Consolidated Independent School District received minor damage, with the exception of the Middle School. Areas of the Middle School campus did flood. The district has already started the remediation phase of recovery at the Middle School and at all of the buildings. At this point, the district will reevaluate at the end of this week to see if they can determine a start date.

“Everyone is so spread out right now and that’s so understandable,” said West Orange-Stark coach Cornel Thompson. “We’re doing our best to find out where all of our kids are. We have food available for them, a bunch of MREs that gracious folks have delivered to us at the fieldhouse. The fieldhouse is operational, all the showers work.”

Coach Thompson was trying to get all the coaches in for a meeting late Tuesday afternoon.

“We want to get together as a coaching family, find out where everyone is at, what’s the status of their situations and go from there and try our best to get everybody helped out as much as possible,” said Thompson, who got water in his house as well. “If the kids want to get up here and toss the footballs around, workout, to help ease their minds, that could be a great thing.”

The Mustangs were scheduled to play at Nederland Sept. 1 and were to host Little Cypress-Mauriceville for the Orange Bowl this Friday.

The next game on the schedule would be a home game with Bridge City Sept. 15.

The two-time defending Class 4A Division II state champion Mustangs will not open District 12-4A Division II play until Oct. 13 when they visit Hamshire-Fannett.

Over at Little Cypress-Mauriceville, Coach Randy Crouch wants everyone to know that the community will rally around one another.

“Prayers go out to the entire LC-M family and the entire Southeast Texas area,” said Crouch. “I’ve simply never seen anything like this and it’s so heartbreaking to see all of the pictures. The high school held up pretty well with a little water. Our other schools got hit pretty hard, especially Mauriceville Junior High, which had several feet in it. It’s going to be a long process but our community is so strong and hopefully we’ll be back stronger than ever.”

Crouch, who got water in his house along with several Bear coaches, is looking forward to getting the Bears back together slowly.

“We’re going to have a voluntary practice Thursday at 5 p.m.,” said Crouch. “Those that can make it, great, those that can’t, totally understandable.”

The Bears have missed scheduled games with Jasper and WO-S. They are scheduled to play at Hardin-Jefferson in Sour Lake Sept. 15 but that seems iffy at best.

“I talked to H-J coach Jared Sloan and he said that their football field alone had nearly nine feet because water had risen as high as the crossbar on their goalposts,” said Crouch. “There place could be bad for awhile. If we can’t play it, we’ll possibly look for another opponent or just scrimmage among ourselves to stay fresh.”

The Bears will not open District 10-4A Division I play until Oct. 13 when they play host to Silsbee.

LC-M Superintendent Pauline Hargrove released the following statement to the media:

“Enduring Hurricane Harvey has been extremely difficult for all. Our hearts go out to each of you and we pray for peace, patience, strength, and a complete recovery to benefit you and our community.”

Due to the broad, extensive damage by Harvey, LCM will remain closed until further notice. A re-evaluation will occur at the end of the week to determine a possible start date. Stay safe and continue to assist one another in this time of restoration.”

The Orangefield school district really took the onslaught of Harvey’s wrath as both the high school and elementary took in plenty of water. The junior high was spared.

“Prayers go out to everyone, not just our Orangefield family but families all across Southeast Texas,” said Bobcat coach Josh Smalley, who was out and about at Cormier Museum, handing out food and water Tuesday. “This has been so devastating to so many people across our region. Our district took a good hit and it’s going to take awhile to get everything operational. Our fieldhouse, weightroom and training room took in some water. We’ve got coaches with water in their houses and we’re all worried about our kids at the same time. We just want them to be safe and with their families right now.

Plenty of players have approached or checked in with Smalley throughout.

“First thing they tell me, is ‘Coach, when can we come back, I’m ready to practice, ready to play’. It just tugs at my heart to hear that and so many have water in their homes.”

The Bobcats have already missed games with Buna and Kirbyville and Coach Smalley said Tuesday that the game at Woodville Sept. 15 has been cancelled as well.

Smalley said the Bobcats will start voluntary practices on Monday, Sept. 11 at 9 a.m.

“We’re just going to wait and see because there is so much cleanup to do with our facilities,” said Smalley. “I know the kids are anxious to get back to practice. We would really love to be back before the LC-M game here Sept. 22, that would be a good thing.”

Orangefield does not open District 12-4A Division II play until Oct. 13 at home against Liberty.

A lot of homes were inundated with water in Bridge City as well, especially along Cow Bayou and towards FM 1442.

A lot of Cardinal football players have been busy not only cleaning out their own homes, but several were seen about town helping the elderly with their homes as well.

From reports, most of the Bridge City schools remain in solid shape.

The Cardinals have already lost games with Hamshire-Fannett and Houston North Forest. The next game on the schedule is at WO-S Sept. 15.

Bridge City will not open District 10-4A Division I play until Oct. 13 at Cleveland.

Vidor Independent School District will resume classes Sept. 19.

The Pirates have missed games thus far against Barbers Hill and Pasadena Memorial. They were suppose to open up District 22-5A play Sept. 15 at home against Beaumont Central.