Josh Smalley, the new head football coach for the Orangefield Bobcats, officially stepped onto the field as the leader and teacher for the team.

Coach Smalley, who recently came over from a four year run as the Offensive Coordinator at Bridge City High School, has a lot to look forward to considering his football experience in the area. He was kind enough to let me sit in on a film session with him a few days before camp, and the new head football coach of Orangefield High School was focused in like a laser beam.

Long since removed from his quarterbacking days at Bridge City High School, where he was an All-District player, Coach Smalley commenced training camp on Monday with everything resting on his shoulders.

“It’s a lot more responsibility,” he said, when asked about how it would change his preparation coming into the season as the man in charge. “Instead of being the guy that’s taking orders, now you’re the guy who’s giving orders. Everything’s on me, ultimately. I still delegate a lot of responsibility to the assistant coaches, and they’ve been great so far doing the things that I’ve asked them to do, and thing’s that I haven’t asked them to do; but ultimately it’s all on me.”

Coach Smalley comes into the position overseeing a solid group of returning talent with something to prove. The Bobcats are coming off a 5-5 season, and are trying to put an end to a playoff drought that has been ongoing since the team’s last appearance in 2003. With that being said; what kind of expectations should Coach Smalley have for the season? Plenty. “My expectations are to win every game we play. That’s why we practice, that’s why we watch film, that’s why we prepare. I want to be a playoff team.” Along with offensive coordinator Brandon Prouse, and defensive coordinator Brian Waguespack; Coach Smalley plans to use the Slot-T as his offensive plan while implementing a 50 based formation on defense.

A key player returning and looking at seeing a larger role this season is Junior Running Back Carl Wiley. A considerable part of the offense last year, Wiley rushed for over 500 yard and three touchdowns on the year. He averaged 20 yard per kick return, which let’s you know he has some moves, and in one of the highlights of the year; took one to the house for 98 yards on a Jasper squad that was known for it’s speed.

“Carl is going to be a work horse for us, no doubt about it,” he said. “He’s been up here everyday this Summer, working hard, getting in shape and running. He’s going to be one of the main guys running the ball for us.”

After replacing a few blockers on the Offensive Line, the quarterback position will need to be addressed by the Bobcats in camp this season. Even with the whole team as his responsibility, Smalley knows what it takes to use his valuable insight to help mentor the eventual starter because of his past as former high school quarterback and his years spent as the offensive coordinator for the Cardinals.

“You always want to gravitate to the kids in the positions you know about and that you are more comfortable with, and obviously quarterback is one of those positions I’m just comfortable being around,” Smalley said. “I’ve played it, studied it, researched it and coached it, so it’s something I’m very familiar with. I plan on being around the quarterback a lot this year.”

Quarterback is arguably the most important position on the field and Coach Smalley knows better than anyone how important it is to have a special type of understanding and relationship with his play-caller.

“It’s very important. You’ve got to be able to trust that guy,” he said. “He’s an extension of you and he’s a coach on the field. He’s the guy in the huddle… he’s got to have composure, a guy that the teammates look up to and believe in; he’s somebody who is going to get the job done.”

When Coach Smalley talks football, it’s natural, and you could tell from the casual nature that he did it with, that this is a person who is extremely knowledgeable about the game,  a person who lives and breathes football and is all about the team first.

As the session came to a close, I asked him about Bobcat Nation and what it could expect as the season gets underway, and he replied “Come out and support the kids. We’re going to have a good year. We know people don’t expect much from us, but we expect a lot from ourselves. Come out and be loud. Be passionate fans. You’re going to like the product on the field, you’re going to like the way the kids behave themselves and represent Orangefield. At the end of the year, I hope that we’re going into week 11 and week 12 in the playoffs, getting ready to play somebody and we hope you’ll be proud of the product we put on the field.”

With a promising season just around the corner, Orangefield opens up the season against the East Chambers Buccaneers on Friday, Aug. 31 out in Winnie, Texas. If you are part of Bobcat Nation, get your orange ready, and go out to represent your team.