Orangefield Bobcats “muscling” through the summer grind; eyes on new leadership

Published 12:28 am Tuesday, June 14, 2022

ORANGEFIELD – Looking to make a positive push with football season right around the corner, the Orangefield Bobcats have worked a strong number of athletes during the early stages of summer workouts.

The Bobcats were going at it hard Monday morning on the field and in the weight room.

They all seemed fired up and ready to rip, after all, they are excited about one thing for sure, moving back down to the Class 3A ranks.

There is no doubt, the Bobcats have always shown they could compete at the Class 4A level, too. They made the playoffs after moving back up to 4A again two years ago, making the postseason both times, including a 7-4 campaign in 2021 for long-time Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Josh Smalley.

Now, it’s back to 3A. Their last time in Class 3A the Bobcats rolled up a 9-2 record and advanced to the postseason with one of the best teams in school history.

“We’ve really had good numbers early on out here,” Smalley said. “We always tell the kids to go out and be a kid, take a vacation with your family. But when they are in Orangefield, USA, we want them up here as much as possible. We’re open every day, Monday through Thursday, so there is always plenty of opportunities. To be good, to make the playoffs, to make a run, it’s so important to be up here in the summertime. We had a really good offseason and that has really carried over well into the summer.”

All-District running back Cameron Dischler has enjoyed the turnout, as well, as he is preparing for a tremendous senior campaign after rushing for more than 1,400 yards a season ago.

“It’s great to see all of the guys out here, especially the younger guys,” Dischler said. “We’re a lot younger this year and we will be counting on a lot of the young guys to step in there and play huge roles for us.”

Dischler is excited to be back in the backfield to see if he can cut loose on even more touchdown trots with his elusive cutting ability and speed.

“I want to get the ball as much as possible and will do whatever it takes to help us win,” said Dischler. “I will be back at halfback, tailback and might even play more at fullback. Hunter Ashworth, he was the ‘man’ at fullback for so long and opened things up for me so much and we’re going to miss him for sure. We have some holes to fill for sure, but we’ll find the right mix.”

The Bobcats, even though they are moving down to the 3A ranks, must find some young guys to step into the offensive line for a Slot-T offense that lost every interior starting offensive lineman to graduation. Just the split end and tight end returns.

“That’s what makes it so important to be up here during the summer, getting to know your teammates better, getting stronger in the weight room, building team chemistry,” Smalley said. “With our offense, the kids up front are the ones that make it go. We’ve got some young kids we feel that can step in there. It’s just all about getting better each week, getting in those reps soon. Those first two scrimmages are going to be huge for us.”

Smalley is looking for leadership from players like Dischler, quarterback Brayden Parker and tight end Morgan Sampson.

“We lost 18 kids to graduation and we’re talking about kids that were great leaders, like Hunter Ashworth, Brayden Babineaux and so many more,” Smalley said. “Guys like Dischler, Sampson and Parker, they know what it is all about and we know they will step in there and lead the way.”

Smalley also pointed out the drop to Class 3A doesn’t mean automatic success.

“Number-wise we line up much better, compared to playing those much larger 4A teams that had so much more depth, so that’s good,” said Smalley. “But we know what can happen in 3A. There are some really good teams there. You just don’t roll into places like East Chambers, Anahuac and Buna and expect to win because you might have greater numbers. Those kids, they come to play too and they have some really good athletes. You have to bring it when you play those guys for sure.”

Dischler echoed the same sentiments.

“I remember when I was a freshman and saw teams like East Chambers, Buna, Anahuac and Woodville and they had some really good athletes,” Dischler said. “We were the smaller guys in our district the last couple years and we always wanted to beat those bigger schools, so I know how they are going to feel when they play us this year with us being the bigger school. We have to realize that every game is going to be a dogfight. We’re a much younger team, so we have a lot to prove. We’ll be just fine if we continue the hard work we’re doing now and stay focused on what is ahead of us each week.”