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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Smalley and Bobcats try to add to record win total at Tarkington


Last updated 10/3/2023 at 3:33pm

Head football coach Josh Smalley holds the plague he was given after his 68th win with the Bobcats making him the winningest football coach in the history of Orangefield High School

Last week was an exciting and historic win at Orangefield. This Friday night the Bobcats take their undefeated district record on the road against another team without a loss in district.

Orangefield played Anahuac which was the preseason favorite to win the district, and the Panthers were 4-0 on their season and 1-0 in district before the two teams met last week. The Panthers jumped out to a 13-0 lead, but the Bobcats came back and won by two scores 32-20 to go 2-0 in district action.

Coach Josh Smalley was honored after the game with a plaque signifying his sixty-eighth career victory making him the winningest football coach in the history of Orangefield High School. "While I am proud and honored to have reached this milestone, this is not about me but a team. Success cannot happen without the support of those around you. This is truly a 'team' accomplishment. Milestones are not reached without the support of the school administration, school board, staff, and the community," Smalley replied.

Smalley thanked all his coaches and the players during his 11-year tenure at Orangefield for their outstanding efforts and work. The coach also thanked his wife Kim for all the support she has given him through the years.

Smalley acknowledged any success that he has achieved is a direct result of the Good Lord above and His Son, Jesus Christ. Smalley added, "I thank Him daily for letting me do what I love for a living. I am nothing without Him and give Him all the honor and glory."

The first two district games have been victories for Orangefield but were not achieved the same way. "We started so fast against Buna two weeks ago, but it kind of went the opposite way as the Panthers punched us in the mouth the whole first quarter. We got behind 13-0, and I credit our kids and coaches we didn't quit or throw in the towel and kind of found a way to work our way back into the game a little bit. We got down again in the third quarter and then found a way to work our way back. It shows a little bit about the character and the integrity plus the work ethic of our kids that even when things aren't going real great they're still not going to give up or quit. They're still going to fight, scratch, and claw to find our way back into a game," Smalley emphasized.

The Bobcats' motto for this season is 'Keep Swinging the Axe' and that was evident in the game against Anahuac. Smalley explained, "It's like cutting down a tree. That tree may not fall on your first swing, or your second swing, or your third swing. It may take a thousand swings to get that tree to fall. We told the players at halftime that it wasn't the first quarter or the second quarter, it may take four quarters for that tree to fall. If you look back at the game it was three and a half quarters the tree started to sway and fall down."

Bobcats that were helping make that tree eventually come tumbling down are in the offensive line. The Orangefield O-line is composed of center Brayden McGee, strong guard Kim Tsan, strong tackle Ethan Brown, Blake McRight at quick guard, Ethan Blackburn at quick tackle, plus tight ends Kalvin Calhoun, Akilles Garcia, and Jacob Worthy.

"The offensive line all the way through tackle to tackle plus two tight ends has done a really good job of not getting their heads done or getting discouraged with some early struggles. Now hopefully it has paid off and will continue to pay off," Smalley analyzed.

In recent years the football program at Tarkington has not had the best of records. That has changed this season as the Longhorns are 4-1 on the season and scored a dramatic touchdown on the final play of the game to win at Hardin in Tarkington's first district game.

The Longhorns operate an old school offense the Flex Bone out of the Pistol formation. The quarterback is in the shotgun and the fullback is behind him with two slot backs and two wide receivers. Tarkington will run the ball about 85 to 90 percent of the plays on offense.

The Tarkington offense starts with quarterback Tanner Johnson. In five games Johnson has rushed for 209 yards with one touchdown and completed less than thirty percent of his passes with one interception but has produced three scores including the game winner against Hardin.

The primary ball carrier for the Longhorns is Michael Galvan at wingback. Galvan is averaging 10.53 yards a carry with 358 yards on 34 carries and has scored 8 touchdowns.

The big 260 pound fullback Nathan Wells is right behind Galvan in rushing yards averaging 9.16 yards a carry and has scored 3 touchdowns in addition to a two-point conversion. Smalley observed, "Wells is big and obviously hard to tackle and bring down."

"The quarterback Johnson will fake the dive, keep it himself, or pitch the ball to one of the wing backs so it is the triple option type offense, and Tarkington is big up front with a huge offensive line. They have one of the biggest O-lines we've seen since Legacy. The Longhorns put you in a bind defensively where we have to know what we are doing by always having a Bobcat responsible for the dive, another Bobcat for the quarterback, and somebody has to be there for the pitch," Smalley pointed out.

On defense the Longhorns do not give up a whole lot of yards. In the games played Tarkington has averaged giving up about 205 yards to opponents and is very good at stopping the run.

The big fullback Nathan Wells plays in the defensive line. At defensive end Jake Bottos with the two inside linebackers Brandon Pitty and Jason Williams are really good at flying to the football for the Longhorns.

Many of the big offensive linemen also play on defense including Logan Morgan. Smalley indicated, "The Longhorns are kind of like us. There are a lot of two-way guys. They don't give up a lot of points with their defense."

Orangefield does not want to look past the Longhorns this week with the game on the road for the Bobcats. "Beating Buna the first week of district and then getting a big win last week against a great Anahuac team will mean absolutely nothing if we drop this one Friday night. It's not like we're playing a terrible football team, the Longhorns are four and one and playing with a lot of belief and confidence. We're zero and zero this week, and our goal is to try be one and oh with a win at Tarkington," Smalley concluded.

Orangefield and Tarkington play Friday. The game will kick off at 7:30 PM in Tarkington.


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