Coming in fourth is getting old for the Orangefield Bobcats. So like every team in the state, the Bobcats are setting their eyes on much higher achievements.

Second year coach Josh Smalley said the first goal is a district championship. This can be considered a very lofty goal considering West Orange-Stark has won the District 21-3A every year it’s been in Class 3A except one year when Silsbee took the crown.

Talk around camps also suggest this could be one of the best Tigers teams in years and it is not a secret what the Mustangs will be like in 2013.

“Silsbee has a lot back and West Orange reloads every year and has some new guys there that sound like amazing players,” Smalley said. “We respect both those teams, coaches and players but we can’t change the culture of the Bobcats if we don’t start setting real goals of beating the best teams.”

Enter the 2013 Bobcats who are fresh off a 4-6 season and return 15 starters.

Orangefield has been making headlines around the state. Bobcats players were even featured on the front of a magazine.

OFFB_3141Hype though does not automatically translate into wins and a playoff berth.

“Expectations certainly been raised,” Smalley said. “That happens when you have kids back with the experience like our kids have. Everyone is excited and we are looking forward to the season.”

One of the talks of the area is Orangefield running back Carl Wiley. Wiley rushed for over 1,000 yards as a junior last year and had 10 touchdowns. Dustin Verrett is also back with experience at the running back position.

Blocking for Wiley will be an offensive line which also has seen time on the field on Friday nights.

Westin Crain, Bryan Lopez and Jerrod Watkins will anchor the line and Mason Sonnier gives size and experience at the important tight end position.

Smalley also hopes the Bobcats can mix it up a little this year with a passing game. Three guys are competing for the quarterback spot. Smalley said a decision might not be made until Orangefield’s scrimmages have been played. Orangefield scrimmages at home against Vidor this Friday and at LC-M on Aug. 22.

Carmichael Wiley, Matthew Kress and Matthew Watkins are competing for the job.

Orangefield’s defense also should be improved with the entire secondary back and a new system being put in place.OFFB_3151

The Bobcats will now use a 4-3 scheme.

“The kids have really responded to the change,” Smalley said. “They have been real coachable and going hard every play. That has been real encouraging.”

Key players back are middle linebacker Colby Choate, linebacker Austin Moore and end Lane Frillou.

This year if the Bobcats do not make their first goal of winning the district a fourth place finish would get Orangefield into the playoffs for the first time since 2003. That year Orangefield beat Liberty in the first round before falling to La Grange.

“Four teams getting in has added some excitement,” Smalley added. “Each week will certainly mean a lot, especially the last week of the year. If in the end we fall short of the title and grab fourth we will still be proud and try to represent our community in the playoffs. Right now though we want to finish higher and set a new bar in Orangefield.”

Gabriel Pruett can be reached at



Aug. 30 – East Chambers

Sept. 6 – Jasper

Sept. 13 – @Newton

Sept. 20 – @Beaumont Kelly

Sept. 27 – @Silsbee*

Oct. 4 – Hamshire-Fannett*

Oct. 11 – @Hardin-Jefferson*

Oct. 18 – West Orange-Stark*

Oct. 25 – Open

Nov. 1 – @Buna*

Nov. 8 – Bridge City*