Starting the season with two wins is good for Orangefield. This Friday is the final non-district game before the off week. The district games are just two weeks away for the Bobcats.
Coach Josh Smalley analyzed the most recent Orangefield victory against the Livingston Lions. Fortunately, there were no injuries coming out of the game. It was a good win for the Bobcats against the much improved Lions.
Orangefield won two phases of the game, offense and defense. Special teams almost cost the Bobcats the contest. The coaches have really been trying to hammer that this week to get better.
Coach Smalley is pleased with the effort by the Bobcats who fought through some adversity to capture the triumph. Smalley reminded, “Through everything that went wrong we found a way to come out with a win so I was happy about that.”
This Friday should be the toughest test so far for the Bobcats as they play the Shepherd Pirates. They have split their first two games with a win over Coldspring last week after losing on the final play of the game to Livingston.
Smalley took a look at the Pirates’ on offense. They run two backs out of the Shotgun. Shepherd uses a lot of Wing-T type plays from the shotgun including buck sweeps, isolations, traps, and quarterback sweeps.
Lots of seniors start for the Pirates. Quarterback Dezmon Yates will direct the Shepherd attack. Yates has two good backs to feed the ball to in Kenan Turner and Josh Weekes. In front of them is a scrappy offensive line that comes off the ball well.
All three of the starters in the Shepherd backfield can go the distance on any play. “We’ve got to make sure we do a good job of wrapping up and tackling,” Smalley warned.
Defensively, Shepherd is a mixed bag according to Coach Smalley. The Pirates line up in a hybrid of formations. One time they may be in a 4-3 look. Then they will drop a linebacker down in the line and show a Seven-Diamond like Newton. The next series Shepherd might be in a 50 alignment.
The Pirates are very aggressive defensively like Livingston was last week. They shoot gaps and send linebackers to put pressure on the opponent’s offense. It means the Orangefield offensive linemen need to be alert and aware who may be trying to penetrate into the Bobcat backfield.
Smalley is most impressed with the Pirates’ two defensive tackles. Jonah Bellard and Ruben Berrun stand out on film by the havoc they cause for opposing centers and interior linemen. Free safety Chayce Jimmerson leads the secondary. Smalley observed, “That’s a big tall kid that is very good on pass coverage.”
Another key aspect of this game is it will be the final game before Orangefield starts playing district opponents. Top priority in the final non-district game is tightening up special teams. Livingston ran back several punts and kicks for big yards against Orangefield. Smalley puts the responsibility on himself for not emphasizing special teams more previously, but that will change in this week’s practices.
Smalley shared his goals for the final warm-up before the district season starts. He wants to continue to avoid the pre-snap penalties by the Bobcats and avoiding the turnovers. Defensively he wants the Bobcats to run to the football to corral the dangerous athletes Shepherd can give the ball. “This is kind of the last little fine tuning thing before we start district in a couple weeks, so obviously we’d like to get those kinks out now that way when we hit district we’re running on full cylinders,” Smalley concluded.
The Orangefield Bobcats play the Shepherd Pirates on Friday night at F. L. McClain Stadium. The kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-