The 2018 season was one for Cuero to remember and one El Campo would just as soon forget.
The Gobblers won their fourth state championship, while the Ricebirds missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
El Campo (2-0) and Cuero (1-1) carry the same records as last season into Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game at El Campo’s Ricebird Stadium.
Cuero captured a 34-20 win at Gobbler Stadium last season and went on to win its final 13 games en route to a state title.
Cuero gets ready to play El Campo. pic.twitter.com/Q3vYkdVNKS— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) September 12, 2019
“It was really a time when our team came together and it was a turning point,” said Cuero coach Travis Reeve. “This is a good football team we’re playing and it’s an opportunity for us to come together and move forward in the right direction.”
The Ricebirds lost six of their final seven games and ended their season early.
El Campo prepares to play Cuero. pic.twitter.com/iqDywklURs— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) September 12, 2019
“There were some things that didn’t work for us last year,” said El Campo coach Wayne Condra. “But this year is a totally different year and a new group of kids. That’s something they’re taking it personal. El Campo has a rich tradition and our kids want get that going back again.”
El Campo rushed for a combined 641 yards in wins over Texas City and Rockport-Fulton. The Ricebirds have been led by tailbacks Johntre Davis, a sophomore, and Charles Shorter, a junior, and freshman fullback Reuben Owens.
“We’re just kind of bringing them along,” Condra said. “We have Reuben the freshman mixing in with Charles Shorter our returner at tailback. Those two guys have been doing a really good job of bring something different to the table. Of course, with Johntre at fullback, we have something totally different. It’s just a matter of working those guys in with what we’re trying to do on the offensive side of things.”
Cuero is well aware of El Campo’s rushing attack, especially after yielding 355 yards on the ground against Yoakum.
“It was kind of feast or famine on defense,” Reeve said. “We would stop them for a loss and then the next play they would run for 50. Our run fits have got to be better. Just our overall team defense has got to get better. I think our kids have worked real hard to improve in that area.”
The Gobblers understand they must get better to obtain a positive outcome.
Cuero’s Conner Crain on the Gobblers’ prospects. pic.twitter.com/ARYuMpgQu4— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) September 12, 2019
“We just have approach every week with a new mentality and take nothing for granted and approach each team like it’s really good,” said senior Conner Crain. “We need to keep the energy up and try to gain some momentum after last week.”
The Ricebirds need only look back to last season to maintain their edge.
El Campo’s Cole Riha on the Ricebirds’ 2-0 start. pic.twitter.com/F8NI9AUcuj— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) September 12, 2019
“It motivated us a lot because last year we had a younger team,” said senior Cole Riha. “This year, we’re a learning team. We learned from that. This year, we’re ready to go.”