Never-say-die Cards eye 2017
By Dave Rogers
For the Record
When folks look back on the 2016 Bridge City Cardinals football team, they’ll see a group of players that refused to quit.
The clock just ran out on them, as Stafford won the third-round Class 4A Division I playoff game 37-28 last Friday in Channelview.
That after Bridge City rallied from a 31-14 deficit to get within three points. Only an unsuccessful onsides kickoff with 1:59 to go separated the never-say-die Cards from a tying field goal or winning touchdown.
The Spartans added a final-play interception return TD to widen their final margin.
“You hate to see it end like that, but the great thing about it was they never quit,” coach Dwayne DuBois said.
“They were down 31-14 and they could’ve folded their tent. But they kept fighting.”
Bridge City had won seven straight games, including all five District 10-4A-I games, ending its season with a 9-3 record.
“It was a great way for our seniors to end their careers, making the playoffs two years in a row,” said DuBois, who returned to coach at his alma mater in 2015.
“I told those guys when I got here if they’d buy in, great things would happen. Any time you win the district championship and make the third round of the playoffs, you’ve had a great season. We just came up a little bit short.”
Stafford’s speed offset a huge advantage in time of possession for the Cardinals, who ran 64 plays (and averaged 5.2 yards per snap) and the Spartans, who ran 44 plays (averaging 7.4 yards per snap).
“Probably next to West Orange-Stark, Stafford was probably the most talented team we faced all year,” DuBois said.
“They were 10-3 going in, but two of those losses were early-season forfeits and they had only given up like 82 points in 12 games. I think the most points they had given up in a game was 31 in their district loss to El Campo.
“We scored 28 and held them under their average. But Friday night, they were just the better team.”
Bridge City rushed 50 times for 260 yards and three touchdowns, with Patrick Morris leading the way with 96 yards on 20 assignments.
Hunter Denton’s one carry went for a 54-yard score with 1:59 to go and teammate Cayce Draper had 13 carries for 53 yards. Max Baker gained 48 yards on nine carries, getting the first of BC’s two fourth-quarter TDs on a four-yard run.
A one-yard run by BC quarterback Byron Trahan put the Cardinals ahead 14-10 with 1:35 left in the first half.
But the Spartans raced down the field to score on a long pass for a 17-14 halftime lead.
Two third-quarter scores by Stafford left the Cardinals trailing 31-14.
Bridge City had surprised the Spartans with its first pass of the game, an 11-yard pass from Trahan to tight end Chase Boneau, putting the Cardinals up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Boneau finished with three catches for 41 yards, more catches than he’d had all season. In all, Trahan passed 13 times, completing five for 74 yards.
DuBois said the Cardinals are taking a week off, but will begin preparing for the 2017 season next week.
“Obviously, we’re losing some good seniors,” the coach said. “But I like our group going forward. I like where we’re going forward. We plan to be back next year.
“You want to get your program where you’re competing for district year-in and year-out. You may not win them all, but we’ve got a great nucleus returning and we have high expectations for next year.”