The 2018 season saw the Orangefield Bobcats drop down in classification and predictions had them as one of the preseason favorites in district. After starting the year with four wins in five games, the Bobcats finished five and five and not making the playoffs.
Orangefield Coach Josh Smalley wants to get the bad taste of that season out of his mouth. Smalley has some players back on offense that can help do that starting with quarterback Gunner Jones. He got into six games following the injury to Mason Gonzales. Jones’ experience at quarterback should help the Bobcats’ offense.
Back at fullback is Heston Puckett who will carry the ball a lot for Orangefield. Joining Puckett in the backfield are Kadeon Evans, Chase Broussard, and Clayson Choate. Smalley analyzed, “Offensively having Gunner back with some experience helps and then having depth in the backfield helps us.”
The Bobcats lost some linemen from last season. Some young men look to replace them. Colby Coulter is expected to see playing time. The tight end will be Logan Gipson. Shifting over from the defensive line will be Colby Gonzales who will see duty in the offensive line as well.
The picture on defense for Coach Smalley and the Bobcats is filled with returnees to the varsity. The whole Orangefield secondary is back with Kaiden Dubose and Cade Brown at the corners. Choate and Broussard are the safeties. Tyler Washington should see some time in the defensive secondary.
Graduation took middle linebacker Blake Bradley away. Evans will slide into that position after playing an outside linebacker last season. Puckett and Kent Michael will be the Bobcats’ outside ‘backers this year, both lettermen.
Kayson Dubois has played defensive end for the Bobcats, and he will be joined at the other end by sophomore Hunter Ashworth. Anchoring the defensive line at tackle is all-district performer Gonzales. “We’ve got to find the other guy to solidify the line,” Smalley admitted.
There are some new faces to the Orangefield roster that Smalley believes will fill some holes and get playing time this season. Sophomore Coulter was new to the varsity late last season and can play in both the offensive and defensive lines. A newcomer to the varsity, Ashworth will be a backup to Puckett on offense and an end on defense.
Dwight Davis will alternate with Washington backing up the starters in the Orangefield defensive backfield. Kade Franklin played a little bit on special teams, but will see more time now at outside linebacker.
In the offensive line Brendon Roberts saw a few snaps, but might fill a starting position this year. Moving in from Deweyville Cutler Hubbard has been working hard and could be the Bobcats’ center. Smalley said, “Hopefully, those guys can step up and fill the spots we lost some kids in.”
The season starts later this month and the Bobcats will be playing in a very tough district. Woodville and East Chambers are strong every year. Buna is always good. The athletes at Anahuac, Hardin, Kirbyville, and Warren make the District 12-3A, Division I extremely difficult.
Smalley’s number one goal through the off season up to now is for the Orangefield Bobcats to be tougher than last season. “We want to show a more competitive team on the field, a tougher team on the field, and something that represents our community that it will be proud of us,” Smalley concluded.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-