Winning Plays

El Campo junior running back Rueben Owens II navigates the hole his blockers opened for him last Thursday night against Yates at Ricebird Stadium in the first round of the playoffs. 

 

If the El Campo Ricebirds want a lengthy playoff run getting past the Lindale Eagles tomorrow at McLane Stadium at 7 p.m., is the next step in the process.

The Ricebirds (10-1) have had a tough time following bi-district the last few years. Despite past finishes, El Campo is laser-focused on Lindale.

“The best teams I’ve ever coached that made runs have been tunnel-visioned,” El Campo head coach Chad Worrell said. “We’ve got Lindale Thursday night, that’s all we’re worried about. We’re not worried about Friday morning or Thanksgiving week. We’re worried about Lindale. I told the kids, (our) goal this week is 1-0.”

Worrell learned about winning under former Celina head coach G.A. Moore, who won six state championships.

“(He taught us) if you walk into our practice in August and you walk into our practice Dec. 16 before a state championship game, there shouldn’t be any difference. We’re going to practice the same way, the same routine and keep it as steady as we can.”

Lindale (7-4) will be El Campo’s toughest test this season, last year the Eagles lost the state championship to Argyle.

Lindale has a dynamic passing game led by dual-threat quarterback Sam Peterson, a Texas State baseball commit. Peterson, in Lindale’s win over Lumberton in bi-district was six yards short of 400 yards of total offense with five touchdowns.

Peterson returned from the state-finalist team.

“He’s a tough kid. I think he broke his nose against Needville (in the area championship) (Needville) coach Mike (Giles). He came back and played the second half (against them), Worrell said. “He deceptively fast. He’s a lot faster than he looks on film. Putting his rushing and passing yards together and he’s right at 70 percent of their offense. He’s a good one. We’ve got our work cut off for us.”

Peterson’s top target is senior Evan Alford, a 6’4” wide receiver who’s caught more than 60 passes. Overall, the Eagles spread the ball around with three players catching at least 30 passes.

Lindale’s offensive line is as good as El Campo has seen this year, Worrell said.

“They’re super good. They’re way overlooked and well-coached,” Worrell said. “They really don’t make any mistakes. They’re as good of an outside zone team as I’ve seen. Peterson or the running backs find the crease and get positive yards every play.”

Lindale is averaging 41 points per game this season. Lindale has been held to fewer than 30 points once.

Chances are the Ricebirds are going to have to score points, something they’ve been adept at this season. The Eagles defense is allowing 32 points per game.

El Campo has scored 40 or more points in their last nine games. The Ricebirds have shown they can and will throw the ball, but the bread and butter have been the running game.

The offensive line and the running backs have pounded the ball for nearly 5,000 yards (4,788), averaging a first down every carry.

Both Lindale and El Campo have played in shootouts this season, the Eagles have been on the losing end of four close games.

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