Injuries for the second year in a row really took their toll on the Bridge City Cardinals last season. The result was only two victories.
The good news though is six freshmen were brought up and got quality playing time. They will be back as sophomores with almost a full season under their belts.
Coach Allen DeShazo has experience returning on offense starting with two outstanding running backs. For the third year in a row Andy Lara will be the fullback and Rylan Ply lines up at tailback. They are a formidable duo with Lara blasting through holes and Ply using his speed to get into the open field.
At tight end Jackson Tims returns. Sophomore J. T. Fielder came up last year and will split time with Tims. Blake Moore and Austin Richardson are back as wide receivers.
In the offensive line Trent Roccaforte and Braydon Little return as starters. Moving over from the defense Kevin Ross should help solidify the offensive line. Ross has had a great summer camp so far.
Sophomore quarterback Ethan Oceguera is mature beyond his years. He started on defense last year and will be the Cardinals’ signal caller on offense. DeShazo praised, “Great knowledge of the game, super athlete, big arm, we’re looking for a whole lot of things from such a young kid.”
The Cardinals return at least seven starters on the other side of the ball which has DeShazo excited about his defense. Linebackers Dorian Pruitt and Garrett Ashworth are back. George Fleming missed the last two seasons because of injuries. Fleming is bigger, stronger, faster, and eager to get out and play.
In the secondary Jake Potter will be at one of the corners again. Moore and Richardson will fill in at the safeties. Another sophomore that came up last year Deegan King is the leading candidate to be the other cornerback. King has outstanding speed while also grasping the details of the difficult position.
Tims and Ply have been mainstays at the outside linebackers. Sophomore Trey Hebert filled in last year and will see time again at a linebacker.
The defensive line will see a lot of rotation from a number of players. Lara, Ross, Little, and David Burton will get some reps. Roccaforte may switch over from the offensive line and play some on defense. “Who’s ever getting it done is going to get out there,” DeShazo explained.
Bridge City did not graduate very many players last year. Coach DeShazo looked at some other Cardinals that are back for this season. The Cardinals’ kicker Oscar Carranza has had a strong summer attending several camps. Carranza should be a key to the team’s success this year.
A lot is expected from junior Cody Howard who missed most of last year after an injury in the second week against Jasper. Colby Collins is a senior who will be a wide receiver. Bryce Miller lost time with an injury is another senior who will step in at wide receiver. Sophomore Cale Newsom will serve as a backup to Lara at fullback and may play some at linebacker.
Blake Perkins saw limited action, but will be ready to roll as a senior this year. DeShazo added, “Aidan Clarke is a junior who really needs a good camp to get in there and give those guys a break.”
Improvement is expected this year for Bridge City. The coach is certain that if the Cardinals can avoid the injuries that decimated them the last two years, they will be a much more competitive team.
DeShazo believes this season will have another balanced district race where any team can beat any other team. Splendora the district winner last year will be tough. Lumberton is big in size and number of kids which makes them a favorite. Little Cypress-Mauriceville as a cross-county rival is a tough opponent. Huffman likewise is always dangerous.
It really is anybody’s district. “It’s who can show up and do what they’re supposed to do on Friday nights and that’s who’ll win the games,” DeShazo concluded.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-