If the El Campo Ricebirds (9-2) are going to make it back to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2015, they’ll have to beat the undefeated Beeville Jones Trojans (11-0) in the area round, this Friday night at Sancrab Stadium in Port Lavaca at 7:30 p.m.
Beeville will be the Ricebird’s toughest test this season to date. Beeville has rolled through opponents and has beaten every team they’ve played by more than 10 points.
“They’ve got a really good football team, there is a reason they’re 11-0,” Ricebirds Head Coach Wayne Condra said.
The Trojans offense is led by dual-threat senior quarterback Seth Gomez who’s thrown for 1,262 yards and also leads the team in rushing with 822 yards.
“They come at you in two different ways,” Condra said. “They come out in a slot-T power offense and spread it out and go to the spread (offense). They give you a bunch of different looks that make you do some different things on defense.”
The Ricebirds defense has seen a loot of different styles this season and are well prepared for what they could see from an offense.
While a lot of teams chase the action, at times you’ll see the defensive line hold position and wait for the team to commit before firing up the field.
In week one of the playoffs, the Ricebirds rush defense held Fredericksburg who had been averaging 185 yards a game, to 67 yards.
“(They) recognize and are able to react off of certain things,” Condra said. “Coach (Elliot) Babcock works hard on watching film and picks up on things. We’re able to communicate (those things) with the kids and they execute the plan.”
With running lanes hard to find against the Ricebirds, teams have picked on the pass defense, at times. Last week, it was the pass defense that came through for El Campo grabbing two interceptions, both by junior middle linebacker Kaden Alcalais.
“It’s a real confidence booster,” Alcalais said. “Our secondary has struggled, but we showed up in the last game.”
For the Ricebirds, it’s been a total defensive performance throughout the season which has allowed them to hold their last six opponents to 15.12 points a game.
“This year we’ve been stepping up,” Alcalais said. “Linebackers have been filling. Defensive ends are keeping everything contained. Everything is coming together perfectly.”
The Ricebirds offense which had been rolling, has found itself stuck in second gear over the last couple of weeks. Against Fredericksburg, the offense pounded out two early scores, but it took a conversion on a fourth and long in the second half to punch the third and final touchdown into the end zone.
While yards were at a premium last week, El Campo still had two, one hundred yard rushers in sophomore Johntre Davis and freshman Rueben Owens combining for 220 yards and three touchdowns.
“The last two weeks have been what I refer to as old school football. Running the football, controlling the clock and it’s going to be no different this week,” Condra said. “It’s two offenses that like to run the football and both have really good defenses, so it’s going to be a great game.”
Turnovers this time of year can be what decides football games. Two weeks ago the Ricebirds gave the ball away multiple times to West Columbia and lost. This past week, it was the Ricebirds who forced the turnovers.
While the offense hasn’t run wild as it had earlier in the season, it’s doing enough and as long as El Campo doesn’t turn the ball over, the Ricebirds will be happy with their chances.