Battlin’ Bears hit the ground running

Published 10:25 am Monday, August 6, 2018

LITTLE CYPRESS — In what was a pleasant, abnormal cool Monday August morning, the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears hit the practice field running as they look to produce a big season and another trip to the playoffs.

The Bears reported to the fieldhouse at about 6 a.m. and were able to hit the field about 7:30 p.m. for their first official workout of the season.

“The kids were eager to get back out here and work,” said LC-M head coach Randy Crouch, who is gearing up for his 10th season in leading the program. “At this point, it’s all about getting into top-notch condition and getting in the reps, especially for our younger guys. It has seemed kinda strange, with it being somewhat cooler than in the past on the first day, but as we know, it can change quickly and it will be hot again.”

Crouch was pleased with how the first day was going.

“The kids put forth a good effort over the summer and came in here in pretty good shape,” said Crouch. “We lost a pretty large senior class last year, so we’re looking for some strong leadership from our senior group this year. We’re looking for some younger guys to step it up and play quite a bit for us, so this is a good time to look at them and see what they’ve got.”

The Bears (4-5 a year ago), made a nice push in district and fought for the district title all the way to the end to net a third-place playoff seed. LC-M has made the playoffs four out of the last five years but is still seeking its first playoff victory since 1997 when they reached the 4A Region III Finals.

LC-M will also be preparing for a new-look district.

Gone are the likes of Silsbee, Navasota and Cleveland. However, three former 5A schools will enter the Bears’ Cave this year in a new District 11-4A Division I in the forms of Lumberton, Splendora and Livingston as those three teams will join the Bears, Bridge City and Huffman.

The Bears return four starters on offense and five on defense.

One starter that is back and will look to help lead the way is senior offensive lineman Colt LeBleu, who was a Second Team All-District and All-Orange Leader selection last season.

“We’re expecting to do big things, that’s for sure,” said LeBleu. “We don’t just want to settle and make the playoffs. We want to win in the playoffs, we want to win district. That’s what we’re striving for.”

LeBleu also likes the look of the new district.

“We’re going to get to play some different teams, which will be fun,” said LeBleu. “We need to get in our minds that we can go out and compete against every team we face. That means we can’t be selfish, it’s all about being a team, if we do that, we can accomplish a lot. It’s just awesome to be back here practicing again, especially as a senior. I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”

LC-M will host Orangefield in a scrimmage Aug. 17 with the varsity starting around 7 p.m. and will travel to Newton Aug. 23 with a varsity start time around 7 p.m.

The Bears will open their campaign Aug. 31 on the road in Woodville and will crank up District 11-4A Division I play Oct. 12 at Bridge City.