Bears collide with Cardinals
Last updated 9/6/2022 at 3:30pm
The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears go from playing an intense rival last week to facing another one this week. The Bears are playing all their early season games on the road while artificial turf is being installed at their home field of Battlin' Bear Stadium.
Last week was the Orange Bowl between the Bears and crosstown rival the West Orange-Stark Mustangs. LCM came out strong taking a 20-8 lead early in the second quarter before the Mustangs rallied to take a 32-20 advantage at the half. Then it was the Bears who rallied to tie the game in the fourth quarter before falling 38-32 to the Mustangs.
Bears' Coach Eric Peevey expressed the quality of the game between the two intense rivals in the Orange Bowl. "West Orange-Stark is always a great football team. I'm just really proud the way our boys fought and battled not showing any kind of fear of the Mustangs. I think we came out there and went toe-to-toe with them. We definitely had some sophomores make sophomore mistakes that ended up I believe costing us that game. I'm glad they made those mistakes because now we can learn from the mistakes and get better. Games like that will only make you better," Peevey summarized.
The game as expected was physical between the Bears and the Mustangs. Bear tight end Jordan Pollock injured his knee. Pollock went in for an MRI with the results to determine his status for this week and maybe the rest of the season.
The Bears played the Mustangs at Bridge City last week and will return there to play the Bridge City Cardinals on Friday. This is a rivalry that goes back decades between the two schools.
Bridge City uses the Spread on offense and will throw the football predominantly. Sophomore quarterback Hutch Bearden is very athletic. Peevey evaluated, "You could tell his first game against Orangefield was a first game for a sophomore, he made some mistakes, but he looked a lot better against Buna. It looked like he grew up a whole year versus Buna. He started pulling the ball and running it. I think he's one of the main reasons that the Cards won that game."
Bearden tosses passes to several receivers including Gavin Bodin who had a big game against Buna last week with five catches for 94 yards. Another receiver is Noah Broussard who did not play in the opener against Orangefield but was a target for passes in the game with Buna.
Another Bearden that is a leader on offense for the Cardinals is Jim Sharon Bearden who has returned from the injury list to play running back. JS had over a hundred yards rushing with two touchdowns in the Bridge City win over Buna.
The Cardinal offense was clicking on all cylinders at least for one quarter in the game with Buna. "They seem to be figuring out their offense. It's a new offensive scheme, and it takes a little while to figure it out, and I think the Cardinals are starting to figure out their roles, and so they could definitely be scary when everybody gets on the same page," Peevey analyzed.
On defense Bridge City aligns in a 3-4 front and will shift into a five-man front. The Cardinals front seven is the strength of their defense.
JS Bearden was all-state last season as an outside linebacker so his return to the lineup was very much welcomed by the Bridge City coaches. Bearden helps secure the outside for the Cardinals.
In the middle is linebacker Mason Pruitt who is a true playmaker on defense for Bridge City. Pruitt tackles ball carriers all over the field, can blitz quarterbacks wanting to pass, or like he did against Buna block kicks on special teams. Peevey praised, "Mason Pruitt is what you want in a linebacker at any level, very aggressive, full speed, has a nose for the football. It seems like he gets faster as the game goes on. I really love the way he plays the game of football."
In the Bridge City defensive line Nick LeJeune is a leader at noseguard. Peevey indicated, "They are definitely a very aggressive front on defense. In my opinion the defense is the strength of their team. I feel like they run to the ball well, I feel like they put their team in good situations, and it's hard to get big plays on them. The Cardinals are aggressive to stop the run which we're usually pretty good at, but you never know. This week we're going to have to block them especially Pruitt."
By October Little Cypress-Mauriceville will have played every other public school in Orange County. The Bears scrimmaged the Orangefield Bobcats prior to the regular season. They played the West Orange-Stark Mustangs last week and face the Bridge City Cardinals on Friday. LCM opens district action against the Vidor Pirates the first week in October.
Rivalries are what make high school football so exciting. Peevey elaborated, "We try to get the whole Orange flavor, we love playing local games against local teams. These are rivalries. Bridge City and Little Cypress-Mauriceville have been playing forever and this is when fans come out, and I promise you I feel it's going to be a sold out crowd."
All the excitement carries with it lots of pressure on high school athletes to perform at their best. "I think this is what high school football is all about. Can our kids handle being in a loud atmosphere where you have two teams that are rivals and everybody knows each other. Can they handle it and keep composed, do their job, play their game. We need things like this in high school football, I think this is awesome," Peevey concluded.
The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears travel to Bridge City on Friday night to play the Cardinals. The kickoff will be at 7:00 in Larry Ward Stadium.