“8,000 formations,” tricks plays. Orangefield Bobcats have hands full with young and talented Anahuac.

Published 12:26 am Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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ORANGEFIELD – After getting off to a nice start to open their District 10-3A Division I campaign, the Orangefield Bobcats hit the road Friday for a stern test when they visit the Anahuac Panthers.

Both teams enter the fray with wins last week, as the Bobcats (3-2, 1-0) defeated Buna 28-14 and the Panthers (4-1, 1-0) roughed up Hardin 65-12.

“It’s going to be a good matchup,” said Orangefield coach Josh Smalley. “Both teams were considered to be near the top of the district in the preseason. It’s going to be a challenge to go to their place. I’m sure they will have a big crowd. It’s just our second road game, and I hope it’s better than the first road trip we had a couple weeks ago against Woodville.”

The Bobcats and Panthers opened the season against one another in Orangefield last season, with the Bobcats nabbing a 46-13 non-district victory.

The Panthers, led by coach Greg Neece, caught fire the remainder of the season, finishing 9-3 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

“The Panthers just kept getting better and better last year and they were so young,” said Smalley.

“Coach Neece and their staff seemed to get them better each week. The thing is, they are still so young. They are playing a bunch of sophomores and they have not missed a beat.”

The Panthers dropped their season opener to Newton 30-14 and bounced back with wins against Hardin-Jefferson (57-18), New Waverly (35-17), San Augustine (55-20) and Hardin.

Anahuac returns seven starters on each side of the ball and are sparked by running back Landon Corbitt. He was almost a 1,400-yard rusher last season and had 25 touchdowns and hasn’t missed a beat this year.

“Corbitt is definitely the real deal and can dominate a game on both sides of the ball, whether he is at running back or at linebacker,” said Smalley. “They have a freshman quarterback that has really played well and distributes the ball to several different receivers, who are young, too. Anahuac, with their youth, is going to be trouble for awhile.”

Smalley knows the Bobcat defense will have to be prepared for anything.

“They will come out in the spread some, then they will stack the backfield. it seems like they have 8,000 formations,” explained Smalley. “When you face them, you better be ready for three or four trick plays. They really like to mix it up and keep you guessing.”

Smalley was proud of the Bobcats and their performance against Buna last week.

“We really wanted to bounce back from that tough Woodville loss, and the kids responded,” said Smalley. “We gained the momentum early. Which was good. In the second half, Buna really scrapped back, but the kids regrouped and made some nice plays down the stretch. That’s what you have to do, especially in district play. A play here and a play there could decide a lot of games. because I think our district is very competitive.”