The El Campo Ricebirds are charging into the regular season next Friday with their heads held high after a pair of dominant home scrimmages. The latest, against the Sweeny Bulldogs was held at home Thursday night.
El Campo’s offense had minor hiccups during the scrimmage, but as a whole, for the second straight week, they were near unstoppable.
Sweeny had a different style of quarterback, who could pull the ball down and run when in trouble, which gave El Campo some problems with containment. Despite a few long runs and breakdowns defensively, the Ricebirds swarmed to the ball, holding him and the Bulldogs in check.
“We played with great effort,” El Campo Head Coach Chad Worrell said. “I think we did some really good things and we made some mistakes, especially on the defensive side that allowed them to make big plays. We didn’t have many breakdowns last week defensively so this week gives us more teaching moments.”
El Campo’s defense started the scrimmage forcing three straight three and outs. Sweeny had a pair of receivers beat El Campo corners on back-to-back plays, but they dropped the catches.
During the offense-only period, last week against La Grange, El Campo’s junior Rueben Owens II scored on the first play of the game. Against Sweeny, Owens was stopped with a short gain on the first play. Senior fullback Johntre Davis scored on the second play of the offense-only period. Davis had some strong runs during the period, scoring a touchdown on El Campo’s two drives. The senior fullback had reps on defense and was effective in getting pressure on Sweeny’s quarterback. However, his blocking was something Worrell took note of.
“Davis did a great job blocking, Worrell said. “He upped his game two fold and he didn’t play bad last week, but he took it to another level tonight.”
During the live timed quarter, the Ricebirds flexed their muscles. El Campo outscored Sweeny 20-6, putting them on pace for 80 points for a four-quarter game.
Like the week before, in which senior David Ursery had an interception on the first play, junior Reed Jung picked off a pass during Sweeny’s first drive. Owens, one play later, ran it 11 yards for a touchdown.
Sweeny during the timed quarter had two big plays: one a quarterback keeper for 30 yards, but El Campo forced them to punt. The other, a long pass, ultimately led to a score, the only for the Bulldogs. Sweeny had five drives, and outside of the touchdown, they picked up one first down.
“At practice, we’re going hard,” Ursery said. “Coach has been teaching us how to play defense and we get the chance to pick off (passes).”
El Campo scored on three of their five drives. Owens, sophomore Stephen Norman and senior Dekoreyus Ward scored for El Campo. Ricebird senior quarterback Isaiah Anderson attempted three passes during live action. One fell incomplete, one was intercepted and the other a long 30-yard catch and run to junior Hal Erwin. The interception, Worrell chalked up to a learning experience.
“We still have a lot of formations we have to learn, but we’re getting it together,” El Campo senior offensive lineman Kerry North said. “It’s really exciting, we feel great.”
El Campo’s sights are now fully on week one with the Gonzales Apaches set for next Friday at Ricebird Stadium.
“Everybody is kind of ready to go play a game,” Worrell said. “Last year there was only one scrimmage, so having two is a little bit of an adjustment for everyone. We’re excited to get ready for Gonzales starting in the morning.”
The Louise Hornets, for the first time this preseason, got to see another color jersey taking on Scared Heart Hallettsville Thursday night on the road.
Louise did some scrimmaging last week against themselves, with High Island not making the trip to Louise, but it wasn’t a real test. Against Sacred Heart, Louise saw some good signs but overall lacked consistency, according to the Hornets Head Coach Joe Bill.
“It looked like a first scrimmage so we’ve got a little bit of work to do,” Bill said. “We’ve got a little bit of work to do. We looked good in some spots but we struggled in other areas.”
Sophomore quarterback Tayveon Kimble was held out of the live scrimmage portion with an injury. Kimble should be fine going forward, Bill said. Junior backup Roy Arrambidie finished out the scrimmage at quarterback.
The running game and the offensive and defensive line were bright spots for the Hornets Thursday night, Bill said.
Louise will now start focusing on week one, they’ll go on the road and play Danbury next Friday.
“Going back to enjoy the spirit of the game, and all the things tied to high school football, nothing is better than Friday Night Lights,” Bill said.