The Orangefield Bobcats have started the season with two straight lopsided victories. Coach Josh Smalley pointed out the positive signs from the win over Livingston and areas that still need attention. There were no injuries in the win. The Bobcats tackled better than in the first game.
Special teams did better, but the rain has limited out door practices which are necessary to work on the kicking game. Orangefield missed three point-after kicks and had a punt blocked. Smalley commented, “I was proud how our kids played on the road for the first time, and it’s always nice to come out with a win.”
This week will be much more of a test for Orangefield. Smalley analyzed the offense used by the Shepherd Pirates. They are a run heavy offense. The Pirates will occasionally get in the Shotgun, but the quarterback is usually under center. Shepherd will use the toss sweep, inside zone traps, and quarterback keepers.
The Pirates have three or four good backs to carry the ball including the quarterback Dylan Arie. Senior Deven Withers may be the best of the running backs coming off last season when he had 684 yards rushing with 9 touchdowns. Shepherd likes to run the football, but Arie will throw it and has lanky Ryan Herrell to go catch the thing. “They’re a run first team, so we’ve got to make sure we try to stop that first, this week,” Smalley stated.
Pressure is the word on defense for the Pirates according to Coach Smalley. Shepherd bases out of a four-man front and will send linebackers almost every play trying to shoot the gaps to create penetration into the backfield. Smalley advised, “It seems like every play they’re sending at least 8 guys.”
The Bobcats young line will have its hands full trying to stop the charging Pirates. The coach indicates this is the first time they will see this kind of defensive strategy this year, but probably will not be the last time.
Many of the starters on offense are also stalwarts on the Shepherd defense. At a safety is Walter Scott who runs to the football well and does a good job in the Pirates’ man-to-man coverage in the secondary.
This is the final non-district game for the Bobcats. Coach Smalley agreed Shepherd is the best team Orangefield has faced this season and compared them physically to the Lumberton Raiders who were scrimmaged by the Bobcats. The Pirates have some athletes in the backfield too.
Smalley provided the keys for Orangefield to stay undefeated going into district action next week. “We have to tackle well defensively, we’ve got to stop the run. Can’t turn the ball over offensively and not allow the penetration when they start sending eight guys,” Smalley concluded.
The game has been moved from Shepherd to Splendora because of the threatening weather that has been predicted for southeast Texas on Friday.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-