Red-hot Cats open up 12-3A play at rival Buna

Published 7:25 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

ORANGEFIELD — It will all get “real” for the Orangefield Bobcats as they will open up district play in their new District 12-3A Division I loop on the road at long-time rival Buna to face the Cougars.

The Bobcats (3-0), after competing hard in the 4A ranks for the last several years, are now the “big kids” on the block after moving down a classification as they will look to get after the undefeated Cougars (3-0).

Orangefield and Buna are two of the five teams in 12-3A that went undefeated in non-district play as Woodville and East Chambers, who play each other Friday as well, are 3-0. Hardin is also 3-0 as they host Warren (0-3) while Kirbyville (0-3) will entertain Anahuac (1-2).

The Orangefield-Buna rivalry definitely goes way back as the two teams will be going at it for the 59th time with the Bobcats holding a 30-26-2 series lead.

The Bobcats were on a tear for Coach Josh Smalley throughout their non-district portion of the schedule, outscoring opponents 122-7 in the process with wins over Houston KIPP Generations (61-0), and Livingston (41-0) the first two weeks and then they knocked off a very sound Shepherd unit 20-7 on the road before having their bye last week. Now, the Bobcats will face their third straight road game as they head to Buna.

The Bobcats are churning out 357 yards a game, 327.7 with their vaunted rushing attack as the Buna game will feature two bruising running games.

Orangefield has used a backfield full of depth to wear down opponents behind a young offensive line that continues to make strides.

Heston Puckett leads the way with 229 yards and two touchdowns on just 22 carries. Bobcat senior quarterback Mason Gonzales has ran a tight ship and has rushed for 143 yards and four TDs on 37 carries and has passed for 69 yards.

Plenty more Bobcats touch the leather out of the backfield and have flourished as well including fullback Blake Bradley along with Quy Tsan, Kade Grozier and Kadeon Evans.

Buna’s defense has been solid, allowing just 202 yards a game and have forced nine fumbles. The Cougars have outscored opponents 112-49 with the wins over Class 5A Cleveland (22-9), Hemphill (50-8) and Coldspring (40-32).

The Cougar offense, led by veteran quarterback Alex Connell, is chewing up 318.7 yards a game with 276.7 of it via the ground.

Connell leads the way with 341 yards and six TDs on just 35 carries while also throwing for 126 yards. He is surrounded by solid backs Trent Barry (32-171-4) and Logan O’Dell (32-162-0). Cougar receiver Kameron Richardson helps keep things honest with five catches for 75 yards.

The Bobcat defense has been fierce thus far and ranks second behind Woodville in the district in total defense, allowing a mere 90 yards a game and just 70.7 on the ground.

The Bobcats will return home next week to welcome in Kirbyville while the Cougars will venture to Anahuac.