The El Campo Ricebirds had a great year blitzing through the district en route to winning the District 12 Championship.
The Ricebirds went 5-0 in district. With their dominating play, the district coaches awarded them five of District 12’s highest awards and 19 first and second all-district honors.
El Campo junior running back Rueben Owens II was named the District 12 MVP. Senior linebacker Jacob Lopez earned Co-Defensive MVP honors. The Lineman of the Year was awarded to senior Kerry North. The Ricebirds coaching staff was given the Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
Owens in district alone had 1,173 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. He had 300 plus yard games against Brazosport and Columbia.
“He really carried the team on his back throughout the year. He’ll be the first one to tell he couldn’t have done it without his offensive lineman and other (running backs) blocking for him,” El Campo head coach Chad Worrell said. “He’s got a special talent. He was able to have a special year. He set some goals before the season, personal goals, team goals, he reached some of them and he didn’t reach some of them. We’re excited for what he’s done and he’ll be back next year.”
Paving the way for Owens and the running game was the offensive line. North who started on the offensive and defensive lines, stood out throughout the season earning recognition as the lineman of the year.
“He was a unanimous choice,” Worrell said. “From the day that we got here he has been the backbone of that offensive line and the foundation I think. Not to take anything any from the other seniors, Jack (Dorotik), Juan (Leal), Carter (Hlavinka) and (Lucas Pfeil), but Kerry’s been that anchor and leader. He was voted a team captain and really just a great kid to go along with being a great player.”
The offensive line paved the way for 2,420 yards, during the five games in district, averaging close to 500 yards a game on the ground.
Dorotik and Leal, earned first-team honors. Hlavinka and Pfeil received second-team honors.
The defense created a lot of pressure and Lopez was all over the field picking up tackles for loss in the backfield and racking up 188 tackles on the season.
“He was on our leadership committee since the first day I got here, a pleasure to coach,” Worrell said. “He’s a heck of a football player and I was glad he was given that honor.”
Ward played on all three phases of the football. He broke up passes on defense and on offense he made big plays catching and running the ball on sweeps. On special teams he also had big kick returns scoring a touchdown against Brazosport.
“Dk’s the definition of what utility player is,” Worrell said. “He had two kickoff returns of touchdowns. He returned punts. He ran the ball out of the gun. He caught passes. He played defense on the best receiver every team had every week.”
The District’ Champion is always awarded the Coaching Staff Of The Year. However, given the number of changes to both sides of the football and the new coaches brought in, El Campo was still able to not only win but grow throughout the season.
“I’m really, really pleased at the staff we put together and how we gelled throughout the season with the guys who stayed here and the new guys that came in,” Worrell said. “It was a learning experience for everybody, but at the end of the season I was really proud of how the coaching staff gelled together.”
The defense was given seven first-team honors. Senior defensive tackle Clarence Farrow, along with the secondary of senior Isaiah Anderson, David Ursery and Jackson Jensen were named to the second team. Junior defensive end Rhenner Spenrath and junior linebackers Reed Jung and Hal Erwin rounded out the defensive first-team honors.
Senior running back Johntre Davis and junior tight end Sloan Hurbert earned first-team honors on offense.
Ricebird junior defensive ends Casen Braden and D.K. Norman and Leal as a defensive tackle earned second-team honors.
Anderson at quarterback, Erwin as a running back and senior Matthew Stewart earned second-team recognition.
On special teams, sophomore kicker Diego Guiterrez was named to the first-team, Stewart as a punter was awarded second-team honors.
El Campo’s honorable mentions were seniors Carson Whitington, Trey Clark and juniors Taylor Manriquez, Byce Rasmussen and Luke Wenglar.
District MVP - Rueben Owens (junior, El Campo)
Offensive MVP - Randon Fontenette (junior, Brazosport)
Co-Defensive MVP - Jacob Lopez (senior, El Campo) and Isaiah Bogerty (senior, Stafford)
Newcomer Of The Year - Da’shawn Burton (freshman, Needville)
Lineman Of The Year - Kerry North (senior, El Campo)
Utility Player Of The Year - DK Ward (senior, El Campo)
Coaching Staff Of The Year - El Campo