Bobcats face big 12-3A battles; Woodville, EC early favorites

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, July 18, 2018

After going from one of the smallest schools in their classification, the Orangefield Bobcats will be one of the biggest Class 3A schools in the state as they will battle it out against seven other foes in their new District 12-3A Division I.

The Bobcats, despite being the smallest school I their old 4A district, have made the playoffs every year since 2013 and Coach Josh Smalley and Co. will look to achieve higher heights in their new 3A loop.

It will certainly refresh some old rivalries as the Bobcats will face the likes of Buna, Kirbyville and Woodville.

The Bobcats were picked to place third by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine in the revamped 12-3A Division I behind the likes of Woodville and East Chambers.

Orangefield will welcome back 14 starters, eight on defense, from a squad that placed third and made it to the bidistrict round in 4A Division II.

Experience should help the Bobcats make a surge. All-District two-way player Blake Bradley returns at fullback and linebacker. Quarterback/defensive end Mason Gonzales will look to make a major impact as will speedster back Quy Tsan.

Also, center Jonah Landry, tight end Logan Gipson, running back/linebacker Kadeon Evans and running back/linebacker Heston Puckett and defensive end Lane Rach bring back experience while defensive lineman Colby Gonzales, safety Clayson Choate, cornerback Cade Brown, linebacker Kent Michael, back Kaiden Dubose and lineman Brendon Roberts look to contribute in a big way.

The Woodville Eagles are primed for a run as Coach Ty Robinson welcomes back 14 starters from a 9-2 area finalist unit.

The Eagles have two big-time backs in Zack Martin, who had 1,411 yards and 18 TDs and Da’Michael Brooks, who zipped for 1,007 yards and 12 scores.

Martin (93 tackles) and linebackers Marcos Broom (111 tackles) and Kobe Adams (93 tackles, six sacks) were all all-district on defense a season ago.

The East Chambers Buccaneers are loaded for another run for Coach Russ Sutherland with 15 starters back, 10 on offense, from a 7-4 area finalist squad.

Their backfield is back intact, led by quarterback Peyton Bertrand, who passed for nearly 1,200 yards and seven TDs. Backs Ernest Caesar and Nolton Shelvin combined for nearly 1,300 yards and 14 TDs on the ground last year while receiver Kordell David had 503 receiving yards and four scores.

Tyrone White, Luke Collins and Colby Kahla will look to spearhead the defensive unit.

Long-time Buna coach Bradley Morgan will look to lead the Cougars into the playoffs again after a 6-3 finish in the bidistrict round last year.

The Cougars return seven starters on each side of the ball and are definitely led by dual-threat quarterback Alex Connell, who operated the Slot-T last year for 1,163 yards and 18 TDs.

Buna has a plethora of backs that will see the leather, including Kameron Richardson, Trent Berry, Logan Odell and Blaine Marks, who was all-district as a defensive back after making 71 stops.

Anahuac will look to improve on a 4-5 mark as the Panthers went 1-4 in their district a season ago.

The Panthers have 13 starters returning to the mix.

Tyrone Wilson was a threat with the ball last year after rushing for 736 yards and four TDs and could move to the quarterback position while Foster Kreuzer and Bryan Wilpitz will look to make a mark with the ball as well.

First-year head coach Craig Jones will look to rebuild Kirbyville into a winner after the Wildcats missed the playoffs and went 3-6 last season.

The Wildcats are blessed to have running backs Cam Smith and Tylon Cooper back in the mix. Dilynn Bishop is expected to make a mark at quarterback and James Burchett is also a potent skill player.

The Hardin Hornets got off to a fast start last season, only to go 0-5 in district play after a 4-1 start.

Veteran coach Larry Haynes will see 11 starters return.

Running back Darius White returns after 721 yards and four TDs, along with receiver Tyler Parker, who had 547 receiving yards and five TDs.

All-District defensive end Colton Kopeski returns to anchor the defensive unit.

The Warren Warriors will look to up the ante as they will try to bounce back from a 1-8 camaign.

Coach Jay Buckner welcomes back just seven starters as running backs Luke Calloway and Bryce Herrington look to give the Warriors a boost.

It should be a competitive district from top to bottom.

The Bobcats may be the big team on the block but they will have to earn it with big district games on the road. The Bobcats travel to Woodville, East Chambers and Buna. East Chambers will have to visit Woodville as there will be plenty of big-time matchups along the way.