The Orangefield Bobcats competed in Class 3-A last season and went 9-2 making the playoffs. Orangefield returns to Class 4-A this year.
Head Coach Josh Smalley lost many of the starters from last year’s playoff team at Orangefield to graduation, but he does have his quarterback back to lead the Bobcat offense. Senior Gunner Jones returns at quarterback. He has started every game the last year and a half.
Also returning is the Bobcats’ big fullback Hunter Ashworth. He excelled as a sophomore last season and now as a junior should be a bigger help to the Orangefield offense.
Most of the experience on the offense for Orangefield is in the front line. Tight end Mason Sampson and split end Logan Gipson are seniors. Grant and Kyler Metts both started last year for the Bobcats.
Other lettermen returning in the offensive line are Cutler Hubbard and Coby Coulter. Smalley stated, “We’re going to be really experienced up front and that’s a good thing, that’s a place where you’d like to be experienced is on that front line. We’ll have to have some young kids step up, but most of our guys are back up front.”
The Orangefield defense was especially hard hit by graduation. Three of four starters in the Bobcats’ secondary and all three linebackers were lost to graduation. Colby Gonzales who was all-district in the defensive line also graduated last year.
Smalley pointed out the players who will be leaders on defensive side of the ball. Hunter Ashworth is back at a defensive end. Trever Jenkins saw a lot of time at the other defensive end position.
In the secondary Dwight Davis will start and lead there at the rover position. Tyler Washington has returned as one of the cornerbacks for Orangefield. “We lost a lot to graduation on the defensive side of the ball, but we have some confidence that our young guys will step up,” Smalley analyzed.
There are some holes to fill for Coach Smalley and his assistants. The coach identified some of the young Bobcats he expects to make an impact this season. One newcomer should see significant playing time is sophomore Cameron Dischler who was on the junior varsity last season. Dischler will fill roles at fullback and at linebacker.
Macoy Marze played some on the varsity last year as a sophomore. Marze will slide into a starting role this season probably on defense. Cade Smith comes up from the junior varsity and will be needed to play on defense in the Orangefield secondary.
Defense is where Coach Smalley and his assistants must fill some holes. Hunter Norwood missed most of last year and will have to play well this season. Moving up from the junior varsity Tyler Shearin will see time in the Bobcats’ secondary.
Two seniors who have not seen much playing time previously but will this year are Garrison Hughes and Matthew Engle. Smalley replied, “Those two guys will have to play for us as well, too.”
The Orangefield Bobcats return to the tough 4-A district in which they competed two years ago. Smalley stated the goals for the Bobcats are still the same despite the change in classification which are to win a district title, compete for a playoff spot, and when they make the playoffs see how far they can go in the post season.
Moving up to Class 4-A is a challenge that Coach Smalley recognizes with the likes of two state ranked teams in West Orange-Stark and Silsbee. Bridge City a playoff team last year has dropped down a classification, and Hamshire-Fannett is expected to be much improved.
Orangefield needs some of the young Bobcats to step up early in the one scrimmage this season and in the non-district games. “If we can get that figured out and those young guys can get some early experience then hopefully by district time we’ll be running full throttle and ready to go,” Smalley concluded.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-
OF Bobcats 2020 Football Schedule
8-20-20 Lumberton Home
8-28-20 Anahuac Away 7:30
9-4-20 Woodville Home 7:30
9-11-20 Livingston Away 7:00
9-18-20 Buna** Home 7:30
9-25-20 Silsbee Away 7:30
10-9-20 Liberty* Home 7:30
10-16-20 West Orange-Stark Away 7:30
10-23-20 Bridge City Home 7:30
10-30-20 Hamshire-Fannett Away 7:30
11-6-20 Hardin Jefferson *** Home 7:30
Dads Night **
Senior Night ***
District 11-4A D2