Bobcats battle district favorite Anahuac on Friday
Last updated 9/26/2023 at 12:10pm
The first district game was a big positive for Orangefield. This week is another important district game at home for the Bobcats.
Orangefield's longtime rival the Buna Cougars came into last week's game with the better record on the season. The Bobcats played their best game of the year taking a big lead early before coasting to a 49-22 victory at Buna.
Coach Josh Smalley described the game as physical between the two rivals, and his Bobcats took advantage of Cougar mistakes to grab an early advantage. "Kane Smith went 73 yards on the first play from scrimmage for us, and that kind of set the tone for the night. Buna turned the ball over a couple times, and we had a scoop and score in the first quarter. It was twenty-one nothing really before you could blink, and our Bobcats never looked back," Smalley summarized.
It was the first game this season for Orangefield where the Bobcats did not commit a turnover. Smalley quipped, "It's amazing how things work out when you don't turn the ball over. It was a good night."
The Bobcat ground game was rolling on all cylinders. Mason Manning had over a hundred and sixty yards with two touchdowns, Kane Smith ran for about one hundred-thirty yards scoring two touchdowns, and Fernando Sandoval-Rodriguez picked up almost eighty yards rushing and also scored two touchdowns.
Defensive standouts for Orangefield included Kaleb Menard who recovered two Buna fumbles returning one for a Bobcat touchdown. Kyle Michael made 17 tackles to lead the Bobcats in that category.
"It was a clean night. We had good night on defense as well. The Bobcats held the explosive running back (Jacob Johnson) for Buna to about eighty yards. Most of the Cougars' yards came in the fourth quarter when the game was kind of decided. It's always nice to get started one and oh in district," Smalley commented.
District action will continue this week at home for Orangefield against Anahuac the preseason favorite to win District 10-3A Division II. The Panthers have lived up to the hype winning their first four games including a 13-0 shutout of Hardin to begin their district last week.
The Panthers use multiple formations on offense and are balanced running and throwing the ball both about fifty percent of the time. Anahuac bases out of the Newton Wing T shifting into an unbalanced line frequently to confuse opponent defenses as to which Panthers are eligible and then will go into the Shotgun to throw the football.
A new quarterback Logan Trotter guides the Panthers' offense after transferring to Anahuac from Hardin-Jefferson where he was the starting quarterback as a sophomore. Smalley evaluated, "Trotter manages their offense really well. The Panthers have not seen any slow down in their offense with Trotter pulling the trigger. He does a good job."
The primary running back is junior Thomas Delao. Sharing the carries with Delao is senior Garrett Dye. They both run the ball well according to Smalley.
When Anahuac throws the football the targets will often be Delao and Dye on screen patterns. Wide receiver Talon Cunningham is dangerous for the Panthers as he proved last year against the Bobcats. Tight end Quandre Coates at 6-5 and 230 pounds is another receiver Anahuac likes to get the ball in his hands.
"They're balanced. They're not just one dimensional run only or pass only, they do a little bit of everything. The Panthers are going to be tough to prepare for. We've got a big week ahead of us preparation wise. Hopefully, our kids are up for the task," Coach Smalley analyzed.
Defensively Anahuac bases out of a four-man front which is what the Panthers used against Orangefield last year. The alignment is kind of a 31 look according to Smalley, but he added the Panthers are likely to show the Bobcats a lot of different defensive formations including a goal line defense which they did last week against Hardin for the entire game.
Smalley stated, "We'll prepare for the goal line defense. We'll prepare for what they showed us last year. We tell our kids it really doesn't matter what the Panthers line up in if we follow our blocking rules we'll be fine because the rules don't change whatever defense they give us."
Quandre Coates plays defensive end for Anahuac and does a really good job. Ezequeil Fraire is 6 foot 260 pounds and a load to move at defensive tackle.
Inside linebacker Tyler Kelley is always near the football for the Panthers. The other linebacker Baylor Lanferman is a good player too.
Their secondary has two stellar players. Talon Cunningham and Oscar Garza can cover the pass very well and deliver a good hit on ball carriers.
"The Panthers are well coached on defense. They run to the football really well. There are some big bodies in the defensive line and they've got speed, so offensively it's a big challenge like it seems every week for us when we see eleven-man boxes or eight-man boxes all the time," Smalley indicated.
The road does not get easier this week after the impressive win in the first game of the district. Smalley admitted, "We've got the Dave Campbell's district champion pick Panthers coming into our house on Friday night."
The keys do not change Smalley emphasized. "We can't turn the football over, we've got to hold on to the football on offense. We can't give up the big play on defense which we did a good job for three quarters against Buna. Thirdly, we can't have a lot of pre-snap penalties. If we can avoid those three we've got a great shot at winning," Smalley concluded.
The Orangefield Bobcats and the Anahuac Panthers play Friday night. The game is scheduled for 7:30 in Orangefield's F. L. McClain Stadium.