This upcoming football season will be my fifth covering the El Campo Ricebirds and the Louise Hornets and the third covering the entire county. Hopefully, you have enjoyed my coverage of your teams. I know I’ve enjoyed covering games and getting to know the players who make the teams in the county go.
All but one football team in the county made the playoffs last season. Wharton County is on track to send another large contingent to the playoffs this season. With so many storylines throughout the county, here are the top five things, one for each school that I am looking forward to seeing.
El Campo Ricebirds have by far the most intriguing plot this year. They have a brand new coaching staff and a large number of returning players at key positions. Brock’s head coach, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach have matriculated to El Campo. That coaching staff has been to two state championships, winning one. What will the coaching staffs experience bring, add to a team full of talent?
The East Bernard Brahmas year in and year out make long playoff runs. However, last season the Brahmas lost in the first round, their worst year since 2009 when they missed the playoffs. In the offseason, the Brahmas won the state seven-on-seven championship. While it wasn’t “football,” they showcased a stingy defense that picked off passes and a third-year senior quarterback who throws touchdowns in bunches. Will any of that translate to pads?
The Boling Bulldogs made it back to playoffs last season after a short two-year absence. They bring back the same quarterback, lost two of their top rushers to graduation. The district around them got a little weaker, Hallettsville lost 3A’s best running back to graduation. Columbus lost their quarterback and top running back and wide receiver all to graduation. With Columbus and Hallettsville coming back down to earth, could Boling fight for a top-three playoff spot?
Last season was the first in five years that the Louise Hornets, had at least five wins. The Hornets lost their two top offensive players to graduation, but the schedule is manageable, even getting three of their tougher district opponents at home this year. Can the Hornets retool on the fly and reach five wins again or maybe even a few more.
The Wharton Tigers had a season they’ll be happy to forget, missing the playoffs and going winless for the first time in over a decade. The Tigers graduated several seniors and this season will be a fresh start for them. They play in a tough district, but can the Tigers lay the groundwork for seasons ahead around a youthful group?
With practices starting Monday it’s only one more Friday until scrimmages and only 13 days until the first game of the season, who’s ready? I know I am.