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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Bobcats try for first win at Shepherd

 

Last updated 9/5/2023 at 7:38pm

Darren Hoyland

Orangefield Bobcat Mason Manning finds running room against the Legacy Titan defense.

Two losses to start the football season has Orangefield hungry for a win. The Bobcats will be looking for their first victory against an opponent this Friday night that they defeated twice last year.

The first home game of the season for Orangefield last week was against Legacy Sports, a private school out of Spring. The Titans beat the Bobcats 48-10.

Orangefield Coach Josh Smalley called Legacy a really good football team and predicted the Titans are going to win a lot of games this season. "It was good for our kids to see that level of competition and that level of athleticism on the field. Hopefully, it will prepare us for our district season coming up," Smalley commented.

Turnovers were a problem the coach had hoped to cut down on, but the Bobcats had trouble against Legacy giving the ball away a couple of times for the second week in a row. Smalley praised, "I do think we tackled better, and I was a hundred percent very pleased with the Bobcats' effort. The game got out of hand in the third and fourth quarters, but we didn't stop competing, we didn't lay down and take it, we kept fighting for the whole forty-eight minutes which is one thing we ask our kids to do especially the young kids."

"After the game I didn't feel as bad about that. We still had mistakes like turnovers and busted coverages, but those things are correctable. Lack of effort is not correctable, as long as we keep giving effort I think we're going to be okay," Smalley analyzed.

Despite the loss Kane Smith of the Bobcats had his second good game returning a kickoff for their only touchdown, and he played well on both offense and defense. Ty Butler added a field goal for Orangefield his first three pointer of the season.

There were no serious injuries for the Bobcats against Legacy. More good news is that Orangefield will get back the services of Mason Houghton who has been out with a shoulder injury since before the summer.

The Bobcats play the Shepherd Pirates this Friday night. Orangefield won the game early in the season last year at home against Shepherd and then defeated the Pirates 55-12 in the playoffs.

Shepherd runs a power based offense which is very similar to Orangefield's Slot-T. The Pirates do not align in the same formation as the Bobcats but will use a tight end with a wing back and they will run some plays out of the shotgun formation but basically both teams like to run the ball at you.

Smalley elaborated, "The Pirates run the buck sweep like we do, they run the power like we do, they'll run iso like we do. It's a very similar offense, they will go unbalanced at times to try to get you misaligned."

The Pirates' offense starts with their two quarterbacks. Sophomore Landen Dellinger started against New Waverley and versus Tarkington senior Peyton Burton got the start at quarterback.

Probably the most potent weapon for Shepherd is junior running back Preston Stephens. "He's a big bulky 200-pound kid that runs hard and is hard to tackle," Smalley described. Stephens rushed for 1,089 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.

Freshman Javaris Marsh is dangerous at another running back position. "Those guys are basically their weapons that the Pirates try to get the ball to behind a big offensive line lead by Noah Castro at tackle and freshman tight end Brayden White. The Pirates don't throw the ball much and are kind of like us being ninety percent run," Smalley pointed out.

On defense Shepherd bases out of a four-man front. The Pirates can basically get into multiple defensive formations. Against Tarkington the Pirates were in a three-man front because of what Tarkington did offensively, but in the New Waverley game Shepherd stayed in its four-man alignment.

The Pirates' best players on defense are nose guard Jacob Guidry and inside linebacker Sheldon Ferguson. Smalley stated, "Those two guys stand out on film. They are both seniors, they always happen to be around the football, they are really good players for Shepherd, and those are the guys we're going to have to make sure we block if we're going to have any success at all in moving the football on them."

Mason Houghton has been sidelined during workouts and the first two games but will return from a shoulder injury for Orangefield this week against Shepherd

Last year during the meeting in the playoff against Orangefield the Pirates put ten men in the box with one safety. "I think we're going to see anywhere from eight to ten men in the box as the Pirates will load it up to stop our run offense to make us throw the ball until we prove we can throw it consistently and move the chains or until we start doing a better job of opening up holes for the backs. Other people are going to do the same thing," Smalley predicted.

Orangefield will be looking to repeat its success against Shepherd when the two teams meet on Friday night. "The Pirates are very good at what they do. It's a big game for us. To our kids' credit they're not listening to the noise outside the locker room. Our seniors are keeping the younger kids focused on the goal. The goal is to get ready for district. We're healthy, our attitude's been good, and hopefully we'll have a big week of practice. Our kids are not down, they're not tripping over their bottom lip. They see the big picture, they're staying positive As long as we can keep getting better each week we're going to be just fine," Smalley concluded.

Orangefield will travel to Shepherd on Friday. The Bobcats play the Pirates at 7:30 PM.

 

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