With only four weeks left in the regular season scheduling, local area High School Football teams each hit the crucial final stretch of the year. Every team in the region has a district game coming up this Friday, and the stakes are high for the teams in contention as they get to the time of the year where they collectively look around and see the same familiar foes standing in the way of a playoff run.

The Orangefield Bobcats (3-4, 2-1) hosted Hardin-Jefferson last week and came through with a big district win 19-14 to give them a leg up in the hunt for the post-season. Coach Josh Smalley and his squad showed exactly how hungry they are for wins when they showed up ready to grind it out with the Hawks. The Bobcats rushing attack remained the focus on offense and the team split fifty carries between seven players. Eric Truncale and Carl Wiley were the main beneficiaries of most of those touches, each up around 100 yards a piece with Truncale getting two touchdowns and Wiley finding the endzone once. Orangefield will face it’s best competition yet this Friday at 7 p.m. when they head on over to WO-S to face the Mustangs.

The West Orange-Stark Mustangs (6-0, 1-0) are coming off of a bye week and had a extra time to look ahead and prepare for the Bobcats. Coach Thompson knows the importance of every district win and will not overlook a young, hungry Bobcat team as he looks to remain undefeated on the year. Expect to see a fresh Mustang squad once they hit the field Friday. Lead on offense by quarterback Jimmy Salter, deep-threat wide receiver J’Marcus Rhodes and anchored on defense by the infamous “Chain-Gang,” WO-S fully expects to win every game they play, and the truth is, they are totally capable of running the table.

The Bridge City Cardinal (2-4, 1-2) suffered a defeat at the hands of the Silsbee Tigers last Friday 45-20. Anyone paying attention to local district play knows that Silsbee has been on a roll and this victory might not come as a surprise to some, but it shouldn’t be overlooked that the Cardinal had beaten the Tigers in two previous contests. Coach Cris Stump and the boys managed to put up a few scores passing, running, and another on special-teams; but it would prove to come up short as the Silsbee machine came to town well-oiled and clicking on all cylinders. The Cardinals have four district games consecutively slated for the rest of the schedule and every week is a must-win for Big Red if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. This Friday, Bridge City hits the road to face Hamshire-Fannett at 7 p.m.

Coach Crouch and the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears (2-4, 0-2) went down swinging last week when they took a loss against the Nederland Bulldogs 35-21. LC-M has been fighting for respect all season and kept the contest within reach for most of the game, but turn-overs would be the difference on the day as the Bears offense gave up three interceptions, including one that would end the game with a pick-six. Running back Alex Sezer would continue to be a bright spot on the day rushing for 179 yards on 27 touches with two touchdowns. The situation could get better, but the Bears would have to pull out the stops and notch some wins as time is getting shorter and shorter. They’ll have their chances with four straight weeks of district play on the schedule and their first task is to knock out the Ozen Panthers on the road this Friday at 7:30 p.m.

It’s all funneling down to the post-season, and it’s going to be over before you know it. It’s been an up-and-down year, but we’ll see who’s left standing when all is said and done.

LCM Bear wide receiver Shae Richards catches a 27 yard touchdown pass against the Nederland Bulldogs. RECORD PHOTO: Ty Manuel