Bobcats will look to slow down Lions

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, November 12, 2019

ORANGEFIELD – Putting together one of the best seasons in school history, the Orangefield Bobcats will look to continue their winning ways Thursday when they take on the Franklin Lions in the Class 3A Region III Division I bidistrict playoffs at 7 p.m. at Woodforest Bank Stadium in Shenandoah.

The Bobcats (9-1, 6-1), the District 12-3A Division I runnerups, check into the postseason with some momentum after waltzing past Anahuac 42-19 last week.

They will face a Franklin team rich with tradition as the Lions will be making their 32nd trip to the UIL playoffs. The Lions (6-3, 4-2) will also be trying to end a tough two-game losing streak as they finished third in a rugged District 11-3A Division I.

The Lions have outscored opponents 335-222 for the season but have dropped their last two contests to 11-3A champion Diboll (34-7) and to runnerup Crockett (60-33) last week.

Franklin has wins over Hearne (49-6), Mart (20-16), Coldspring (42-0), Elkhart (48-22), Palestine Westwood (55-21) and Trinity (60-21). They also had a 42-21 non-district loss to Lorena.

Franklin returns just nine starters, five on offense, four on defense, from last year’s 10-2 regional semifinal team.

Just like the Bobcats, the Lions have no secret to what they like to do. They love to run the football and they have some explosive speed to do it.

The Lions are sparked by backs Datron Dixon, Bryan Washington, Malcolm Murphy and Seth Spiller while quarterback Marcus Wade shows flashes as well as they like to get up and down the field by moving the sticks.

The Lions will try to get through a Bobcat defense that led 12-3A in total defense.

The Bobcats are only allowing 189.2 yards a game, 104.4 on the ground and 84.8 in the air.

The Bobcats will turn to their well-oiled Slot-T arsenal and will once again look to spread the wealth among a deep backfield to make it hard on the Lions to concentrate on one back.

The Bobcat offensive front has paved the way with nice holes all season long as the Bobcats check in averaging 308.5 yards a game, 294.5 of it coming on the ground.

Chase Broussard leads a balanced Bobcat backfield with 696 yards and nine touchdowns on just 86 carries. Fullback Heston Puckett has churned out 612 yards and four scores on 99 totes while Hunter Ashworth has zipped for 462 yards and six TDs on 65 carries.

Quarterback Gunner Jones along with Clayson Choate, Kent Michael and Kadeon Evans will also likely see their share of carries while contributing mightily on the defensive side of the ball as well.

The Bobcats will be seeking their first playoff win since 2015 when they defeated Houston Worthing 37-28.

The Orangefield-Franklin winner will face either Whitney (9-1) or Lago Vista (6-4) in the area round next week.