Rumble Young Man Rumble

El Campo senior Kerry North (70) runs with the football down the field after recovering a fumble in the first half against Yates at Ricebird Stadium Thursday. He’s flanked by junior blockers Casen Braden (8) and Rhenner Spenrath (88).  El Campo moves to the area round of the playoffs and will play the winner of Lindale and Lumberton sometime next week. 


The El Campo Ricebirds blew through their first-round matchup, with a 63-18 win against the Jack Yates Lions Thursday night at Ricebird Stadium.

Five different Ricebirds scored a touchdown as they routed Yates for the second straight season.

“You win in the playoffs and you’re happy to move on and live another day,” El Campo head coach Chad Worrell said. “Step one was to win this one. We made some mistakes and they’re a talented enough team (to score) when you make mistakes.”

Yates capitalized on a couple of El Campo mistakes, but not until the game was out of reach, leading 50-0 with a minute left in the first half.

Not much stopped El Campo, who scored 50 first-half points on 29 plays.

El Campo junior running back Rueben Owens II set the tone early, scoring on their first offensive play of the night. Owens broke through the line and outran Yates defense for a 44-yard touchdown, his first of three.

The Ricebirds, as a team, ran the ball for nearly 450 yards. The offensive line helped El Campo’s backs gain more than a first down a carry Thursday night.

“We’ve got chemistry (on the offensive line),” senior Carter Hlavinka said. “It’s a great group of people on the front. When we’re firing on all cylinders, I really don’t think there is anyone that can stop us.”

The line is all seniors, consisting of Hlavinka, Kerry North, Juan Leal, Lucas Pfeil and Jack Dorotik.

Owens had a team-high 202 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries.

North starts on both sides of the football, his fumble recovery stopped one of Yates few drives into the red zone. North ran back the back, 70 yards before getting tackled inside the five-yard line. North stayed in to block for Owens, on a one-play, five-yard touchdown run to make it 22-0.

El Campo’s defensive line put pressure on Yates’ quarterback throughout the night. Trailing quickly, and not getting anything on the ground, they went almost exclusively to the pass.

Trailing 36-0, Yates got a turnover on an El Campo fumble. Yates quarterback, three plays later under heavy pressure, had his pass picked off by Ricebird senior cornerback/quarterback Isaiah Anderson. El Campo marched down the field with seven straight runs to make it 43-0. Senior wide receiver DK Ward scored from seven yards out.

The offensive line kept coming, freshman running back Quincy Thornton called up for the playoffs and scored the final touchdown of the night on a 38-yard run up the middle.

“It’s a great win. Great morale booster going into next week. Next week it’s 0-0,” Hlavinka said. “It’s a good feeling. A good way to get everyone’s experience up for next week. Hopefully, we’ll have a good week of practice and take it to Lindale or Lumberton.”

While El Campo scored on nearly every possession, four fumbles, all lost, kept them from being even more efficient Thursday night. The number of fumbles was uncharacteristic for El Campo this season.

“We haven’t had that problem. It was a weird night,” Worrell said. “Hopefully, we can get those fixed. It will be a focus for us to fix and try to get better going forward. We can’t have that many fumbles.”

El Campo will play the winner of Lumberton and Lindale next week. Further information is unavailable, the game took place Friday after the press deadline.

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