El Campo's Bryce Brandl refuses to pass on football
Bellville Brahmas at El Campo Ricebirds
7:30 p.m. Friday, Ricebird Stadium
Radio: KULP, 1390 AM
EL CAMPO - Bryce Brandl's first love is baseball, which comes as no surprise.
Brandl hit .360 with eight doubles and 20 RBIs and stole 11 bases during his junior season at El Campo.
He earned first-team all-district honors and has committed to play at Texas State.
Brandl's father, Kerry, an El Campo assistant, coached baseball and led East Bernard to a pair of state championships.
But the younger Brandl wouldn't consider not playing football.
"I like the competition," Brandl said. "I like getting to carry the ball. I like scoring touchdowns. I like hitting people. It's a great sport. You stay in shape, build yourself up and it makes you and all-around better person."
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Brandl's commitment to football has paid dividends for the Ricebirds this season.
Brandl has passed for 243 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 230 yards and six touchdowns to help El Campo take a 4-0 record into Friday's District 25-3A opener against Bellville (3-2. 1-0) at Ricebird Stadium.
"The thing about Bryce is he's tall and he's big and he's faster than people think," said El Campo coach Bob Gillis. "He can throw the ball. He's gotten better every week. He's learned how to handle the team and handle situations and he made third-down plays last week against Foster."
Brandl played quarterback from the seventh grade through his sophomore season, when he was the starter on the junior varsity.
He moved to outside linebacker last season, but filled in for an injured Cullen Schoener in the final district game and led the Ricebirds to a 30-0 win over Lamar Consolidated.
"Last year, I took reps as the backup and I knew all the plays," Brandl said. "This year it's knowing that you're the leader and you get to put the helmet on and be the starter."
Brandl is looking forward to playing in a new district as a Class 3A team for the first time.
"I think it's cool to go play somebody new instead of the same routine we're always in every year," Brandl said. "It's neat to face people that don't outnumber us like 60 to 100 on the football field."
El Campo is averaging a district-leading 402.5 yards per game under Brandl's direction and has scored an average of 34.5 points per game.
"He knows the offense," Gillis said. "He's been around the field house quite a bit. He's a great kid. He's smart, very smart. I've just been real proud of how he's gotten better and better each week and we've started adding some things each week."
Brandl is aware of the high expectations now that El Campo has dropped from Class 4A to 3A.
But he's taking nothing for granted.
"Of course everybody was excited," Brandl said. "But it's like coach Gillis always says nothing is ever handed to us. We're going to have to work just as hard. We got put in a pretty tough district to start off with so we're going to find out what we're really made of."
NOTES• El Campo had an open date last week, while Bellville opened district play with a 55-6 thrashing of Columbus.
• Gillis was impressed with the Brahmas' slot-T offense, which has produced 1,400 rushing yards. "They've got three good running backs and the offensive line really comes off the ball," Gillis said.