Bobcats have rematch with Woodville
Last updated 11/7/2023 at 1:09pm
Orangefield received a double dose of bad news last Thursday, and both items will impact this week's game for the Bobcats. First was the injury status report for one of the team's leaders, and that was followed by a loss which dropped the Bobcats into third place in the district standings.
Starting inside linebacker Kyle Michael hurt his knee in the previous game against Kirbyville. Michael, his parents, and eventually the Orangefield trainer were informed on Thursday prior to the Orangefield game with East Chambers that Kyle had a torn MCL and ACL in his knee which means his senior year for the football season is over.
An all round athlete Michael will have surgery and then begin rehab on the knee. It is hoped Kyle will recover from the surgery in time to be a part of the Orangefield baseball team for which he has been a star performer and leader since he was freshman just as he was for the Bobcat football team.
Bobcat Athletic Director Josh Smalley praised Kyle Michael as the best example of a student athlete at Orangefield. "You can't ask for a better kid than Kyle Micheal and what he's given to the program. He's what a Bobcat should be and what a Bobcat is. When people ask about the Orangefield Bobcats, I just point at Kyle," Smalley responded.
The game between the Bobcats and East Chambers was for the second seed in District 10-3A Division I. Orangefield took the initial lead scoring on the first possession of the game, but the Buccaneers dominated after that scoring 28 unanswered points for the victory and to claim second place in the district.
Coach Smalley gave credit to the Buccaneers and the East Chambers' coaches for their decisive win over Orangefield. Smalley elaborated, "They did a good job and had a good plan. They kind of 'Orangefielded' us by not throwing the ball a whole lot. They lined up and ran it down our throats and we couldn't stop them. When we had the ball offensively we looked good early and then kind of struggled towards the end of the game. When we got behind three or four scores it put us in some things we're not great at doing."
Some consolation for Orangefield was running back Mason Manning finishing the regular season as the leading rusher in the district games by eight yards. Manning ran for 582 yards on 78 carries which is a 7.46 yards per carry average with 11 touchdowns during the six games.
A bright spot was the effort given by the Bobcats. "I thought our kids for the most part continued to play hard throughout the game and got after it. Some Bobcats were in different positions because of injuries and playing in spots they haven't had to play in a while. I was also proud that kids like Lane Gipson, Kane Smith, Mason Houghton, Blake McRight, and those guys that are seniors that have been here in the program since seventh grade continued to fight, continued to battle, and that was good to see and hopefully we can continue that this Thursday," Smalley expressed.
This Thursday marks the beginning of the state playoffs for Orangefield. The Bobcats play the Woodville Eagles who they faced in Week 4 losing by a score of 19-7 at Orangefield.
Woodville is the second seed from District 9-3A Division I. The Eagles are 7-3 on the season and their only loss in district was to Diboll the district champions.
The Eagle offense operates out of the Spread Formation with four wide receivers on most snaps and usually one running back with the quarterback. Sometimes Woodville use an H-back out of the shotgun.
Coach Smalley has seen some film on Woodville where the Eagles did get into a two tight end Wish Bone look. It may have been geared just for the team they were playing in that particular game or as an alternative goal line offense.
There are some dangerous weapons for Woodville to use on offense. The quarterback Ralon Williams is a dual threat being able to throw the football as well as run with it.
Ralon is a four-year starter for the Eagles. In the game earlier this season against Orangefield he passed for three touchdowns completing 11 of 17 passes for 132 yards while running 12 times for 53 yards.
The primary target for his passes is Ty'Marion Walker. He caught six passes against the Bobcats for 127 yards and scored all three of Woodville's touchdowns in that game.
The leading rusher Zayon Williams runs behind the Eagles' big offensive line led by Bart Sylestine and Layne Ledoux. Zayon ran for 92 yards on fifteen carries in the earlier meeting with the Bobcats.
The Woodville offense is a very good one. "They put 34 points up on Palestine Westwood last week and they've put over 50 on some other teams in their district. They line up on the ball, look to the sideline for the coach to signal in the play after seeing how the defense is lined up, and then he calls plays to attack where they think you're vulnerable. Defensively, we're going to have to disguise some things, move some stuff around, make them think we're in one thing when we're actually in another, and try to confuse their kids. We have a challenge on Thursday night," Smalley analyzed.
The Eagles base out of a four man front in kind of a 4-2-5 alignment. According to Smalley they are very aggressive.
Linebacker Jaythan Traylor gave the Bobcats fits in the earlier this season. Film from other games have shown Smalley that Traylor has continued to be a menace to other teams' offenses.
Defensive end TyQuan Miller was injured and did not play in Week 4 against Orangefield. Miller has played really well since his return to the defensive lineup for Woodville. Also in the defensive line are Tayvion Hunter, Dwayne Koenig, and Nick Horn who all get after it.
Smalley summarized, "The Eagles are an attacking style defense. They'll shoot the gaps, they'll blitz linebackers. They run up field a lot. Woodville is not going to sit back and wait for you and read the line of scrimmage. The Eagles are coming after you."
Orangefield played a good game against Woodville in the first meeting. The only problems were two fumbles by the Bobcats inside Eagle territory that spoiled potential scoring drives and two of three big pass plays could have been knocked down by the Bobcats but instead resulted in touchdowns for Woodville.
What must change for a Bobcat triumph. "We can't turn the ball over and we can't give up big plays. We can't have penalties in the playoffs, those things can cost you football games against teams like this. We're confident, the Bobcats feel like we can go compete with Woodville. Our coaches will have a good plan ready for Thursday, and then it's just a matter of executing and playing hard and competing which I feel most of the time the Bobcats do," Smalley concluded.
The Orangefield Bobcats play the Woodville Eagles at the Lumberton High School Stadium. The game begins at 7:00 on Thursday night.