New Bridge City coach talks about development of Cardinals student-athletes

Published 12:16 am Friday, August 18, 2023

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BRIDGE CITY — With an experienced group of returning players and a new head coach changing the culture of the program, the Bridge City Cardinals could be an interesting team to keep an eye on this football season.

“No matter what we throw at them, our guys don’t blink,” head coach Chad Landry said. “It’s not easy. We’re practicing in the heat of the day. But they haven’t shown any regret, any remorse. They’re getting to work.”

Landry took over the Cardinals program in late May following the departure of previous head coach Cody McGuire.

Head coach Chad Landry signals in a play for Bridge City during scrimmage action this week. (Keagan Smith/The Leader)

In his first months at the helm, Landry set a clear expectation for his team —maintain discipline and accountability. The positive changes are noticeable as the leadup to the 2023 campaign is upon the community.

“We do a lot of little things that add up to big things,” Landry said. “It’s taken some time, but they’ve adjusted, and I feel like we’re committed to it. Everything we ask them to do, they’re doing it.

“It’s been fun for me in this new position, too, because the players have made it fun. They’ve made it enjoyable to come to work every day.”

The Cardinals operate from a spread offense with quarterback Hutch Bearden under center.

Offensive coordinator Chris Towery has been working with Bearden to improve his throwing mechanics, and the junior is said to be comfortably taking over the offense in practice.

Bearden’s top target is likely to be wide receiver Gavin Bodin. The senior pass-catcher is donning red-and-white for the first time after transferring to Bridge City from Port Neches-Groves High.

“Gavin is a big-framed kid,” Landry said. “He’s a big target, runs good routes, has great hands and knows how to get open. We’re excited to have him here, and we know we’re looking for big things.”

Senior Jerris Brown makes goes up for a contest catch Thursday against Woodville. (Keagan Smith/The Leader)

Senior Jerris Brown and sophomore Abraham Mungia are expected to be other cogs in the receiver room. Landry expects to get several tight ends in the mix, as well as utilizing a backfield tandem of Cody Fusilier and Jamel Charles.

The skill positions are mostly set in stone, but the offensive line is a work in progress. Landry said Victor Ortiz is starting at center, but the staff is trying to find the right combo of players around him.

The defensive line is a much different story — Landry said trench play is a strength for the defense.

Nicholas Lejeune, Bryce Linder and Ayden Richardson are key contributors to that strong defensive front.

“They’re some good football players,” Landry said. “They’re tough. They’re in great shape, and they’ve worked extremely hard this summer. We will go as those guys go because they do a lot of work up front for us.”

Cardinals defender Stephen Stone, No. 1, prepares to make a tackle on LCM receiver Jacob Pollock, No. 13, early in the 2022 season. Stone is part of a talented and veteran secondary in 2023. (Tommy Mann Jr./Orange Leader)

The Cardinals also return the entire secondary.

Jagger Carlin will play corner, while Stephen Stone and Luke Williams start at safety. Landry said the position group is communicating well and stood out during a scrimmage against Vidor.

Bridge City will certainly be battle-tested this season. The non-district slate includes matchups with Orangefield, Lumberton and Little Cypress-Mauriceville.

The Cards also face an uphill battle in 4A-II’s District 9, which includes four state-ranked teams in Silsbee, Jasper, Hampshire-Fannett and West Orange-Stark.

While predicting them to win the district might be a stretch, sneaking into the district’s final playoff spot is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Bridge City opens the 2023 campaign at home versus the Orangefield Bobcats, Aug. 25. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

— Written by Keagan Smith