Cardinals hope to fly over Hawks for first district win
Last updated 10/17/2023 at 1:28pm
The Bridge City Cardinals almost pulled off one of the big upsets of the year last week. The Cardinals will now go on the road looking for their first win in district competition over the last two seasons.
The first half a week ago was dominated by Bridge City against a West Orange-Stark team that was state ranked when the season began. The Cardinals led 7-0 after two quarters, but the Mustangs rallied to take the lead and did not secure their victory until there were less than two minutes remaining in the contest.
Bridge City Coach Chad Landry called this the best game the Cardinals have played this season. "We talked prior to the game we wanted to just have a chance at the half. Our guys competed extremely well. The first half was probably the best half of football we've played all year. We had a seven nothing lead going into the fieldhouse, it was just an overall great ball game, best game we've played all year," Landry reminded.
Turnovers have been a problem for the Cardinals in several games but they did not turn the ball over against West Orange-Stark. Landry followed-up, "We protected the football. Hutch (Bearden) did a great job finding the open man on his passes, and when no one was open he did a good job of knowing when to tuck the ball and run. I thought it was the best game overall for our offensive line."
Two different running backs in addition to Bearden carried the ball. Merik Aras and Jamel Charles gained positive yards for the Cardinals.
Avoiding penalties was another key as Bridge City was only flagged for three penalties totaling 25 yards. "It was a clean game. Overall, the atmosphere at Larry Ward Stadium competing with one of the best team's in Texas historically made it a great ball game. I was really proud of how we competed. It was a fun sideline, it was a fun environment, I wish we had come out on top, but it was a great experience for our guys," Landry expressed.
One Cardinal who went down in the second half with an apparent injury was Rayburn Hebert. Landry replied, "Rayburn is a firecracker, we love him, we love how he just kind of gets after it, and he did go down but he is fine. He did see the doctor this week and was cleared. It was kind of a deal where the hit just stunned him more than anything, and he had never felt anything like that before. We took all the precautions we needed to and he'll be fine."
Bridge City travels to Sour Lake on Friday to play the Hardin-Jefferson Hawks. Both teams are looking for their first win in district. The Hawks are 0-7 on their season while the Cardinals did win two non-district games early.
The last couple of years under Head Coach Zach Bass the Hawks have switched from the ball control Slot-T they previously ran to the Spread Offense. Hardin-Jefferson will use an H-Back and will flex the tight end out of the Spread. "The Hawks are efficient. They know what they want to do," Landry analyzed.
The standout on offense for the Hawks is Wyatt Samaha who Landry described as their 'Swiss Army Knife' playing H-Back, tight end, and wide receiver. Samaha caught passes totaling 430 yards and for three touchdowns last year.
Hardin-Jefferson quarterback Bryndyn Lee has taken over since the season started. Lee has done a good job directing the Hawks' offense. A hard runner for H-J is Davion Levine who has been on the varsity since he was a freshman.
Landry responded, "It's going to be a big test for us on how well do we rebound from such an emotional game last week. We need to maintain our focus for this week, and our guys are excited."
The defense has been tested this season for Hardin-Jefferson. In seven games the Hawks have surrendered 289 points and allowed at least 35 points to every opponent except Liberty who scored 20 two weeks ago.
The Hawks will mix their defenses against opponents. One down they may be in an odd front, the next down they will switch to an even front, and then they may be in a 3-3 Stack according to Landry.
"The Hawks mix it up which is going to pose a challenge for our offensive linemen. The Cardinals will have to make sure our calls are getting made correctly with different rules for different fronts and different personnel the Hawks show. The Cardinal linemen will have a big task this week with understanding what they're getting in front of them and making the proper calls. Our senior center Victor Ortiz has done a good job of leading the way with that. He does a good job communicating what the rest of our offensive linemen need to do. I'm really proud of those guys, they continue to get better. We're using seven or eight guys, they're rotating in, and they're all doing a good job for us," Landry complimented.
Bridge City is in good shape heading into this week's contest. Landry indicated, "For the most part we were healthy coming out of the West Orange-Stark game, and we get a couple guys back this week. It should be a good night for us."
The test for the Cardinals is they must travel to Sour Lake for this game against the Hawks. "I think the big challenge up front is playing on the road. Playing on the road in district with a chance if we go out and take care of what we need to take care of to come out on top. The challenge for us is to maintain our focus, and just really to play our brand of football. I think we finally figured out who we are, and it's been fun to watch. If we stick to that, take care of the football, minimize the penalties, I like where we are, and I like where we're at for Friday night as well," Landry concluded.
The Bridge City Cardinals play Hardin-Jefferson on Friday. The game will commence at 7:30 PM in Sour Lake.