Wanted: Cardinals want a playoff win
Cris Stump’s Cardinals have done what no Bridge City team has done in its history. The Bridge City Cardinals made the playoffs last year for the fourth time in four years, something never done before in Cardinal Country.
So why are the Cardinals not satisfied one bit?
Bridge City is 0-4 in the bi-district round the last four years meaning zero playoff wins for the Cardinals.
Setting goals for 2013 were pretty easy when it came time this past offseason. The Cardinals first want to win the district championship and then win in the playoffs.
Bridge City will have to do so with a bunch of players who have varsity experience yet are playing this year in new positions.
Example being Chase Shugart. Shugart will step in after playing safety last year as a sophomore and will be the team’s starting quarterback as a junior.
Jonah Lemoine will also have new responsibilities and big shoes to fill as this year’s starting running back. Lemoine got the nod after Ashton Hunter suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Stump has liked what he has seen so far from Lemoine.
“What I have noticed is Jonah was here all summer long and participating in drills,” Stump said. “He is really taking on the new job he has on the team and has accepted his role.”
Lemoine comes in a year after Hunter rushed for nearly 1,400 yards as a junior last year with 14 touchdowns.
Two offensive linemen really stood out Monday at the start of practice due to their size and experience. Stump will rely on both Jordan Schamber and Jackson Roberts to anchor the offensive line as both are over six feet tall and weigh about 250 pounds.
Schamber will also be a key guy at defensive tackle along with Josh Henry who will be at defensive end.
The defense will have a real familiar name for Cardinals fans yet he also has a new position. Hunter Uzzle will move to middle linebacker, replacing three-year starter Zach Cole who will play at Southwestern University this fall.
“The beauty is none of these guys are new to Friday nights,” Stump said “In January or February these guys all said they want to be around in the second or third round. We might be the only people who believe in that goal but we like it that way.”
Stump also said outsiders are also the only ones worried about the injury to Hunter.
“There is no question we would love to have him in pads and on the field,” Stump added. “The rest of the team has had time to adjust and have been reading how everyone all of a sudden thinks we will be 2-8 without him. That has put a chip on their shoulder.”
District 21-3A, along with the rest of the 3A ranks, will send four teams to the playoffs this year. Bridge City isn’t thinking that far ahead just yet and has its eyes set on the district title first.
This year’s group of players have been with Stump his entire seven years in Bridge City, meaning they are a part of his system and program.
“I do a lot less hollering at players these days that is for sure,” Stump said. “For most of these guys this is the only program they know. They know they have to earn the right to be a part of this team and be a part of Bridge City’s history. It is not only last year or the three years before that. We are talking since 1966 and being a Cardinal. They want that and they want to make this city proud.”
Bridge City opens the year Aug. 30 versus 2A No. 1 Newton. District 21-3A play starts Sept. 27 versus Buna.
Gabriel Pruett can be reached at email@example.com.
Aug. 30 Newton
Sept. 6 – @ Vidor
Sept. 13 – Beaumont Kelly
Sept. 20 – OPEN
Sept. 27 – Buna*
Oct. 4 – Jasper
Oct. 11 – @Silsbee*
Oct. 18 – Hamshire-Fannett*
Oct. 25 – @Hardin-Jefferson*
Nov. 1 – West Orange-Stark*
Nov. 8 – @Orangefield*
Bridge City Cardinal quarterback Chase Shugart hands off to Cade Wheat during practices this week. RECORD PHOTO: Mark Dunn