On the line Friday night at Ricebird stadium is a playoff seed.
If the El Campo Ricebirds (8-1, 4-1) beat the West Columbia Roughnecks (8-1, 4-1) they will secure second-place in District 13, if not they’ll fall to third.
If you’ve ever seen the meme with Spiderman looking and pointing at another Spiderman, that’s pretty much the situation Friday night. But which Spiderman, er football team, is the real one? We’ll know at the end of the game.
The game will feature teams who are nearly mirror images of each other. Both the Ricebirds and the Roughnecks are run-heavy teams that play stout defense.
“They run some of the same plays that we do,” Ricebirds Head Coach Wayne Condra said. “It’s going to be one of those smash-mouth football games.”
The Roughnecks and the Ricebirds both have one loss on the season, both to the Needville Bluejays. Both teams had a tough time dealing with district leading rusher senior Ashton Stredick who had four touchdowns in each game.
This Friday, the Birds and the Roughnecks will have to try and stop each other’s run games. Columbia is one yard shy of having the district’s best offense. However, it’s the Ricebirds who have the more dominating run game, passing 3,000 yards on the ground last week against Bay City.
Behind senior quarterback Cameron Ward, the Roughnecks are throwing the ball, with 849 passing yards this season.
The Ricebirds defense is leading the district allowing 220 yards a game. Against Bay City, El Campo’s defensive line caused a lot of pressure keeping the Blackcats out of the endzone in the second half.
What El Campo has done well this season is not panicking when trailing or giving up a bad play. Against Fulshear, Bay City and Brazosport, the game was tied or the Ricebirds trailed going into the locker room. The Ricebirds made adjustments and won.
“We talk to our kids before every game,” Condra said. “There are going to be ups and downs in a football game. The phrase we always use, ‘There is no high highs and no low lows,’ it’s a 48-minute football game. They’re going to make plays and we’re going to make plays. It’s the team that doesn’t let the other team bring them down when they’re making plays and we don’t execute on our side. We’re going to make adjustments in-game. We’re going to make adjustments at half-time and do whatever we need to do to stop the ball or control the football. Our kids do a great job at settling in and focusing in to do what they need to do to be successful.”
El Campo in the past four games has outscored teams in the second half 98-15.
The only points allowed in the second half came from Fulshear four weeks ago.
Along with a defense that has shown a lot of growth, the offense has put on quite a show. Last week, sophomore fullback Johntre Davis carried the ball for 204 yards. The Ricebirds running game into had over 400 yards and averaged 7.9 yards a carry.
Like El Campo’s defense, the Roughnecks also will be a handful after returning a lot of starters from last season, including four first-team all-district players.
“They were really good on district last year, I think they lead the district,” Condra said. “They do a good job up front. They’re big up front and they take up a lot of space on the inside. They’re guys on the back end are mobile and do a good job of getting to the football.”
Friday night determining the winner of the game will be pretty simple: Who can run the ball and who can stop the other team from doing so.
TALE OF THE TAPE
The Roughnecks offense averages 303 yards a game on the ground. The defense allows 104 rushing yards.
The Ricebirds offense averages 336 yards a game on the ground. The defense allows 105 rushing yards.