Bobcats play East Chambers on Thursday
Last updated 10/31/2023 at 12:41pm
There will not be a district championship this year in football for Orangefield. The Bobcats will be playing this week for second place in the district with the playoffs a week away.
The Bobcats played at Kirbyville last week and suffered their first loss in district action 34-19 to the Wildcats. Kirbyville completed district 5-1 to claim the district championship since the best Orangefield can do is match the same district record but the Wildcats own the tiebreaker by virtue of their win over the Bobcats and an earlier win against East Chambers which also has just one loss in district going into this week's final regular season game.
Coach Josh Smalley knew the game was going to be a challenge for Orangefield against a very good Kirbyville team. "It was basically a disappointing loss, but as far as being frustrated with us I will just tip my cap to the Wildcats and congratulate those guys as a good football team which has won a lot of games this year. Maybe it was more about what Kirbyville did than it was about us," Smalley replied.
Smalley admitted, "We didn't play our best or coach our best." The Bobcats had not turned the ball over in their four previous games, but against Kirbyville they turned it over twice one of which was a pick six by the Wildcats who also returned a kick for a touchdown. Smalley said Orangefield did not run the ball the way he wanted to against a good defense.
Corrections need to be made in order for the Bobcats to be ready this week. "There's no doubt we've got a lot of things to correct. That is the great beauty of the coaching profession in sports, you don't have a whole lot of time to pout and sulk. We've got to get off the ground and get ready for a really good East Chambers team," Smalley commented.
Another loss for the Bobcats other than the one on the scoreboard was the services of Kyle Michael to a knee injury. Michael who is a starter at inside linebacker was scheduled for an MRI this week to check the extent of the injury. Coach Smalley confirmed Kyle will not play against East Chambers.
The final game of the regular season pits Orangefield against East Chambers. The two teams have both lost to Kirbyville, but otherwise have been successful in their other four district games.
On offense the Buccaneers are multiple from the shotgun. They will get into the Spread but will usually operate from a power alignment with an H-Back and tight end type offense.
The East Chambers' offense is directed by freshman KJ Fontenot who was young when the season started, but now has ten games under his belt. Smalley evaluated, "We don't really consider Fontenot a freshman any more, he's playing really well right now."
Senior Hadyn Reeves is the leading running back for the Bucs and is the top rusher in the district for the season gaining 940 yards on 130 carries with 20 touchdowns. Reeves runs the ball hard and reminds Smalley of his former star running back Cameron Dischler. Reeves is bigger, and like Dischler was is hard to bring down according to the coach.
The Buccaneers have also made good use of Ja'den Thibodeaux running the football. Thibodeaux is averaging 9.07 yards a carry in district games with six touchdowns.
There is some speed with the skill players at East Chambers. Wide receiver Jarrell Smith is the defending district champion in the 100-meter dash and is the leading pass catcher for the Buccaneers with 15 receptions good for 172 yards and one touchdown. The tight end Jamison Pitre and H-Back Matthew Reddell are other targets for Fontenot to throw passes.
As mentioned before East Chambers is multiple in its attack on offense. "The Buccaneers do a lot. They throw screen passes, they throw deep balls, they throw out routes. I really feel like they're more of a run first team. They are kind of like us they like to just line up and power run the football down your throat, but they do also have the ability to throw it and the quarterback obviously has the option to run or pass as well," Smalley pointed out.
Defensively East Chambers will base out of a four-man front, but have shown the ability to switch into a five-man line depending on the opposing offense. In last year's game between the Bobcats and Buccaneers they used both alignments on defense.
Coach Smalley replied, "We'll prepare for everything. The good news is it's stuff we kind of see every week from other teams."
Standouts on defense for the Buccaneers include defensive end Kyler Smith a junior who is always around the football and appears to be a tough physical type player. Linebackers Leonardo Avila and Ethan Cart are not scared to mix it up with opposing ball carriers.
In the defensive line Keyshawn Winford is big and strong. Carson Mann also contributes for East Chambers up front.
The leading tacklers for the Buccaneers are their safeties Dante West and Reid Todd. "Those guys aren't afraid to come downhill and make tackles. Any time your safeties are your leading tacklers that tells you they're not afraid to come down and attack the football," Smalley analyzed.
East Chambers has a history on defense of trying to take away what opposing offenses like to do best. Smalley elaborated, "That's why I think we'll see a loaded box again. They're really good defensively, and our offensive staff and the Bobcats have a challenge to be ready for them as well."
The winner of the game between the Bobcats and the Buccaneers will earn second place in District 10-3A Division I. The first round opponent in the playoffs will be either Woodville or Palestine Westwood.
Whatever let down there may have been over not repeating as district champions Orangefield will be ready for the battle this week. "We got over the loss to Kirbyville on Saturday when we came to the fieldhouse showed film and talked to the kids. We reminded them not to let one loss effect the rest of the season. We've got to let it go, learn from, and try to get better. The good news is we have a really good team that will play Thursday on their Senior Night. These seniors will play their final game here which is motivation for them. There's also motivation to play East Chambers which always has a strong team. It's not for first place, but second place is better than third, and this is an opportunity to compete for second place in the district. There's a lot of motivation, and I know our seniors want to go out with a victory in their last game at home," Smalley concluded.
The game between Orangefield and East Chambers will be played on Thursday, not Friday. The kickoff will be at 7:30 PM at F. L. McClain Stadium.