It has been a long, hot summer for Southeast Texas football. After working hard all off-season, teams finally get to face off as the countdown to kick-off zeros Friday, Aug. 31. That’s this Friday if  you’ve been in a hole somewhere, and actual starting times vary depending on the team. Players and coaches look to jump off to a good start as the hunt for the playoffs begins, and though there aren’t any district games scheduled for any of our area teams, every win will count as the season marches on.

The Bridge City Cardinals will take their potent offense on the road to face Newton. The Cards’ have a new quarterback in Daniel Faulk, but look for him to transition into the role nicely with coaching from new offensive coordinator Gary Brewton and help from a stable of young runningbacks all set to split the carries for the year. Coach Stump will have the Cardinals well prepared, with a fourth consecutive playoff berth dead in his cross-hairs.

It’s just another round for Coach Cornel Thompson, and another chance to reload  for the West Orange-Stark Mustangs. The team will host Little Cypress-Mauriceville on opening day; more on that later. After going undefeated in their district and posting a 10-4 record overall, WOS predictably went to the playoffs, but got bounced out early before achieving their ultimate goal. With a solid core of starters returning for the 2012 season, look to see emerging talent like runningback Kane Tezeno take on defenders and keep defenses on their collective toes all year long.

Little Cypress-Mauriceville has their work cut out for them from the start, when they take a little trip across town to visit the WOS Mustangs. Coach Randy Crouch and the Battlin’ Bears won’t give up anything easy, and they have a few tricks up their sleeve as well with Texas A&M commit Alex Sezer Leading the charge. This can’t be understated as the the multi-talented athlete accounted for a hefty chunk of the Bears offense last year before going down with a season ending injury. It’s been a long time since LCM has seen the post-season, but they will undoubtedly continue to play hard until they see it again.

Hope and inspiration are running high out in Orangefield. The Bobcats have had to replace more people than just starting players over the summer. Coach Josh Smalley takes command of a team in the middle of a playoff drought, but you couldn’t tell by watching the players get after it in the off-season. Coach Smalley starts the year off with amnesia this Friday as the Bobcats first one is an away game facing East Chambers. Nothing matters but the future, and for this team, the future includes taking their share of victories right into the post-season.

Every year, the stakes seem to get higher and the parody between our county schools always seems to have new and interesting developments for local area football fans. There should be some twists as the season develops and nothing is for certain. No one has it on lock and any team can win on any given day; that’s why they play the games.