By Dave Rogers
For the Record

The Bridge City Cardinals will realize a dream for every high school football player Thursday – to still be practicing on Thanksgiving Day.
Of course, this year that means they’ve played themselves into the third round of the post-season, something the Cardinals hadn’t done since 2005.
“I was excited for the kids,” coach Dwayne DuBois said of his team’s 39-19 win over Bay City last week.
Friday, the 9-2 Cardinals take on Stafford at 7 p.m. at Channelview’s Maddry Stadium in the Class 4A Division I regional semifinals.
But first, they’ll have a morning walk-through practice on Thanksgiving Day.
The coach was thankful for a big second half against the Black Cats, expanding a 24-19 halftime lead. Bridge City’s District 10-4A champions scored the game’s final 25 points after Bay City’s quarterback was injured late in the second quarter.
“It was pretty sloppily played on both sides in the first half,” DuBois said.
“I don’t know if it had to do with the weather (rain and high winds). But in the third quarter, we had the wind and we jumped out.
“It was an exciting win against a quality football team like Bay City. We don’t get much time to rest. Stafford is another quality team. They’re all pretty solid when you get this far.”
DuBois said this is the third time he has coached into the third week of the playoffs, the first two coming when he led Hardin-Jefferson.
“It’s neat for the kids, because none of them have been to the third round,” the coach said. “But none of these guys had ever won a playoff game, either.”
Fullback Cayce Draper returned after missing a game with a foot injury and led Bridge City’s powerful Slot-T offense to 393 yards rushing. He gained 209 yards on just nine carries.
“We didn’t know if he was going to play,” DuBois said. “He ran only five plays in the walk-through last Thursday. It was hurting him, but he’s a gutty kid, and this is it for him as a high school player.
“He wanted to play and I’m glad he did. He had a great game.”
Teammate Max Baker added 90 yards on 11 carries and freshman Andy Lara gained 52 yards on six totes.
In winning their seventh straight game, the Cardinals scored on a 56-yard pass from Byron Trahan to Patrick Morris.
“Part of our plan is we like to wear teams out in the second half,” DuBois said. “That happened Friday.”
And now it’s on to face 9-3 Stafford. The Spartans were runnersup in 12-4A and beat Kilgore 27-21 last week.
They’re waiting in the third round of the playoffs. On the day after Thanksgiving.
“It’s a cliché, to take them one game at a time,” DuBois said. “But when you think about it, that’s really what it is.
“Our kids will be amped up more than they (normally) would be, but once the ball’s kicked off, it’s a normal football game.