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Âś%LUGVKLJKOLJKWWRSVSRUWVPRPHQWVRI By CHRIS FILOTEO sports@leader-news.com

Stephanie Morrison

El Campo and Louise had its fair share of eventful and thrilling moments in 2012. Let’s take a look at the highlights of the 2012 sports season from spring through winter. Spring: Feb. 2 marked the day many Ricebird and Ladybird fans will remember for an extremely long time. The University Interscholastic League conducted its biennial classiďŹ cation realignment and the move shifted El Campo from Class 4A to 3A. El Campo competed in 3A for the ďŹ rst time in

more than 40 years beginning with the 2012-13 campaign. The realignment affected the Louise football team as well. The Hornets dropped from Class 1A Division I to Division II. All other Louise sports competed in the same district as the previous year except for the football team. The Ricebird soccer team ďŹ nished their season 2-3-5 in district competition, just missing the playoffs by one win. El Campo drew with Brazosport 2-2 in its last match to shatter its playoff hopes. Louise track and ďŹ eld fans rooted Hornet Dil-

lon Lee all the way to a fourth place ďŹ nish in the long jump event at the Class 1A state meet. Lee jumped 21’10â€? in the long jump event to claim fourth place. El Campo Athletic Director Bob Gillis and Assistant Trainer Cassey Janak were both honored by the Greater Houston Football High School Coaches Association. Gillis was inducted into the Hall of Honor for his dedicated work on the gridiron. Janak was selected as Athletic Trainer of the Year in her second year at El Campo. (See MEMORABLE EVENTS MARK, Page 6)

/DG\ELUGV SUHSDUHIRU QHZVRFFHU FDPSDLJQ By CHRIS FILOTEO sports@leader-news.com

The new year brings many changes for sports fans. And the same can be said for the Ladybird soccer team. First year El Campo coach Stephanie Morrison will direct the Ladybirds in District 47-4A and hopes to emphasize the importance of a new start. “I don’t want to focus on last year, I want to focus on this year,� Morrison said. “It will be different for me because it’s a new sport, but I want to get the girls together and form a good group.� El Campo isn’t known for its soccer, yet the Ladybirds should have a cohesive unit of returning players. The Ladybirds have 20 players slated for their opening-day roster and eight are returning from last year. Two of those are seniors Angel Saldana and Crystal Lorta. Morrison will institute a 1-4-3-3 formation this season. The formation (See EC SOCCER SQUAD, Page 6)

L-N Photo by Chris Filoteo

Swiping Steal Lady Hornet Katelyn Roades (10) goes for a steal at mid-court during the third quarter in a 66-33 defeat by the Palacios Lady Sharks Thursday morning at Hornet Gym. Louise trailed 33-14 at halftime and struggled with shot production in the second half as Palacios held the Lady Hor-

nets to no shot attempts until 5:41 in the third quarter. The Lady Hornets scrambled against Palacios’ press defense throughout the contest. Louise travels to East Bernard Jan. 2 for its next non-district game. The Lady Hornets host Shiner in their ďŹ rst district game of the season Jan. 8.

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Chris Kutac attempts to drive the baseline as the Hornets fell to Palacios 44-28 at Hornet Gym Thursday afternoon in a nondistrict matchup. The Sharks led 23-11 at halftime and were successful with their press defense in the second half, which limited Louise to shot opportunities and forced turnovers. The Hornets are off for a week before their next game against Tivoli at Hornet Gym Jan. 4. L-N Photo by Chris FIloteo

unting for white-tailed deer has drastically changed over the past de-

cade. I remember as a child, heading outdoors with my dad in search of a trophy buck. We would sit together in a blind and patiently wait for sunrise. Once deer began to wonder from the thick brush, I asked my dad, “Look at that buck dad, have you seen him before?â€? My dad’s response was, “Nope. I haven’t seen him before.â€? With the technology of trail cameras today, deer hunters have the opportunity to scout their herd 24/7 without physically being in the ďŹ eld. The vast assortment of trail cams (as they are called by hunters) range from a $75 model up to $500 and more. Any one of the trail cams can pin-point the precise location of a targeted deer. The general season closes in Wharton County Jan. 6, but the special youth-only along with muzzleloader seasons remain open until Jan. 20. So, there is still time to accurately locate that trophy buck you have been eagerly trying to see while in the ďŹ eld. Where is the best place to put a trail cam you might ask? “Most hunters put them along trails and around their feeders,â€? Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist for Wharton County David Lobpries said. During the rut, which is typically during the ďŹ rst week of November, placing a trail cam near a scrape to see a buck’s activity is a great idea. Another crafty spot for your trail cam is by a rub, where a buck rubs his forehead and antlers against a tree trunk. The bucks scrape off the velvet on their antlers in late summer and early fall. During the rut, bucks mark their territory with rubs, which leave scent from a gland in the forehead. Now for the novice hunter, you

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don’t have to buy the fancy trail cam available to start your scouting. “For beginners, don’t buy the most expensive one,â€? Lobpries said. “The least expensive cam without all the bells and whistles will do the job.â€? Lobpries suggests hunters not to place too many trail cams in one area. “If you use a protein feeder we recommend using one per 160-200 acres,â€? Lobpries said. How important are night time photos versus day time photos when patterning a buck? “They are really good for activity and you will see that before the season,â€? Lobpries said. “Primarily you will see them coming quite frequently during daylight hours. Right now, I have a camera out west of El Campo and every deer is coming after dark.â€? And ďŹ nding out what time deer are active is the best tool to have during the season. However, nocturnal deer aren’t always bucks. “There are both does and bucks coming out to my camera in El Campo,â€? Lobpries said. “Does are sharper than bucks, especially when you hunt them. I only had one daytime photo around 5 p.m. and the rest of the pictures were at night. “In fact, during a hunt in Fort Bend County earlier this month I didn’t have one deer come to the feeder. It’s been that kind of year. Very few deer, or hogs are coming to the feeder during daylight hours.â€? Hunting the rut is a magical time of year for most hunters. I know for me it is. The best time to hunt is during (See TECHNOLOGY, Page 6)


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(Continued from Page 5) Two Hornet powerlifters competed at the state meet in March. Tanner Surratt placed sixth in the 148-pound class and Adam Morton was eleventh in the 114-pound class. Summer: El Campo’s baseball team ďŹ nished second (9-5) in District 23-4A and 19-10 overall on the season. The Ricebirds faced Friendswood in the bi-district round of the playoffs, but lost in a two-game series. The Ricebirds lost both games by a combined score of 3-1. The Hornet baseball team had an opportunity to experience the playoffs against their rival Ganado. However, Louise was runruled 15-0 to burst any hopes of a playoff run. Moulton and Yorktown both forfeited their baseball season with a month left and the change altered the Hornets’ playoff chances. The El Campo 9/10 year old All-Star softball team defeated Washington County 9-4 in the second game for the Texas East State Championship in Seguin. The All-Star team only lost one game throughout the season and dominated opponents

Bob Gillis with precision pitching and pin-point hitting. Fall: The Ladybird volleyball squad ventured into the Class 3A spectrum after ďŹ nishing second in District 234A the previous year. This year, the Ladybirds faced highly-talented teams in District 25-3A and found themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Only three schools in Class 3A advance to the playoffs (four teams will advance beginning next year) and El Campo was tied with the Sealy Lady Tigers for the third and ďŹ nal spot. But, the Ladybirds lost in three sets to Sealy to end the 2012 season. Winter: With the Hornet football team competing in a

new district and division, they were ready for the gridiron. The Hornets ďŹ nished the season 1-9 and lost their last game to Woodsboro. The win would have qualiďŹ ed Louise for the playoffs in District 141A Division II and given coach Danny Villanueva a playoff berth in his ďŹ rst season. And last but not least, the Class 3A Division I state ďŹ nalist El Campo football team. The 2012 Ricebirds rewrote the El Campo record books with an undefeated season and trip to Cowboys Stadium for the state championship. The team was the second in school history to advance to the title game; the ďŹ rst dating back to 1967. The Ricebirds ďŹ nished their regular season 10-0 and were 6-0 in District 25-3A. El Campo defeated La Grange 35-21 in Victoria in the bi-district round, Somerset 51-14 in Bastrop in the area round, Ingleside 31-20 Region IV ďŹ nal and Carthage 29-25 in the state semi-ďŹ nal. However, the Ricebirds lost to Stephenville 70-35 in the state title game in Cowboys Stadium to end their remarkable playoff run. All in all, El Campo and Louise fans will always have 2012 to look back for cherished moments.

Âł7HFKQRORJ\UHVRXUFHIXOIRUKXQWHUV (Continued from Page 5) the rut simply because bucks will let their guard down in search of receptive does. But, scent control around a trail cam is only important during the rut, Lobpries said. “It would be a good method to do that dur-

ing the rut,â€? he said. “But it’s not necessary any other time during deer season.â€? So head outdoors and set up a trail cam to improve your chances at bagging that trophy buck. Remember, trail cams are the best tool hunters can rely on while not in the ďŹ eld.

SPORTS SHORTS Ricebird Baseball Winter Camp The El Campo baseball staff will conduct a one day training camp on Jan. 3. The cost of the camp is $25. The camp will focus on the mechanics of hitting, ďŹ elding, throwing and base running. The camp is open to boys from second through the seventh grade. Space is limited. In order to guarantee personal instruction time to all campers, the camp will keep an 8:1 ratio and enrollment will be limited to 32 student-athletes. The camp will be held at the El Campo High School baseball ďŹ eld, or in the Ricebird Gym (cold/wet) from 8:15 - 10:30 a.m. If possible or necessary, a second camp from 10:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. will be offered. Mandatory attire will in-

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VTXDGJHDUV XSIRUIUHVK EHJLQQLQJ (Continued from Page 5) helps with possession-oriented soccer and having three players in the midďŹ eld gives a numerical advantage against all other systems. Having wide forwards allows for attacking slants down the wings, which should beneďŹ t the Ladybirds’ lightning-quick speed. What will be the goal during the ďŹ rst few weeks of practice? “Basics and ball handling,â€? Morrison said. Morrison comes from Ganado ISD after serving as the girls varsity basketball head coach for three seasons. An El Campo native, Morrison originally was to attend ECHS, but moved with her family as a child. She replaces former Ladybird coach Tala Allen, who took the head varsity volleyball coaching position at Angleton ISD. El Campo starts its 2013 season on the road for the ďŹ rst four matches beginning against Victoria East Jan. 15. The Ladybirds’ road-trip wraps up Feb 1 against rival Bay City in their ďŹ rst district match of the year. The El Campo home opener is against Angleton Feb. 5. The Ladybirds face Sealy in their only scrimmage of the season Thursday at Ricebird Stadium. Kick-off is set for 10 a.m.

El Campo Elks Hoop Shoot Contest The El Campo Elks Lodge will hold its annual Hoop Shoot free-throw contest at Ricebird Gym Saturday, Jan. 12 at 8:30 a.m. The contest is open to all area youngsters 8-13 years of age, with the date of age determination being April 1, 2013. There is no entry fee and no pre-registration is necessary. Rubber-soled shoes compatible with the wooden gym oor are required, however, no speciďŹ c type of clothing is otherwise speciďŹ ed.

There are three age categories: 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13 with boys and girls competing in separate divisions. All others will shoot from the regulation free-throw line with the girls using their smaller ball and the 10-11 and 12-13 year old boys using the larger boys regulation ball. Winners will advance to the state contest in Richardson; to the four-state regional contest (also in Richardson); and to the national contest in SpringďŹ eld, Mass. All competition past the local contest will be handled at the Elks expense, including food, lodge and travel. For more information regarding the Hoop Shoot contest even should be directed to Elks’ Hoop Shoot Director George Matthews at 979-5436675.

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clude baseball pants, cleats, bat, glove and tennis shoes. All other equipment will be provided. For more information please contact El Campo head baseball coach Russell Krenek at 830-305-9025.

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A look back at the 14-1 season

Saturday, December 29, 2012


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ust like the saying goes in sports, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships.â&#x20AC;? Even though the Ricebirds lost to Stephenville in the Class 3A Division I state title game a couple of weeks ago, every member of the El Campo community canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be more proud of the teamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spectacular and memorable 14-1 season. In its ďŹ rst season in Class 3A in more than 40 years, the El Campo defense led District 25-3A in points allowed with a salty 11.7 average. When the opponent has the ball, the Ricebirds set into motion by defensive coordinator Wayne Condra. You can typically ďŹ nd Condra, if he isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t teaching class, plopped in front of a computer watching game ďŹ lm at the boysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ďŹ eld house. And with the amount of advanced technology available today, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter where he is. He is watching ďŹ lm. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t give you an exact number of hours, but I know itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lot,â&#x20AC;? Condra said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;On Saturday, we are usually at the ďŹ eld house until 2 p.m. L-N Photo by Chris Filoteo watching ďŹ lm and then I go Touchdown Ricebirds! home and watch a little bit of El Campo defensive coordinator Wayne Condra raises his arms it there. Then we go back up for a touchdown during the bi-district game against La Grange. there Sunday and do it again

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and all through the week.â&#x20AC;? When asked how much ďŹ lm he watches at home compared to at work Condra said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yeah the time would be evenly split.â&#x20AC;? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve noticed during every game, the second the opposing teamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s offense sets up on the line of scrimmage, Condra is calling out audibles for his defense. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The key is when the other team breaks the huddle,â&#x20AC;? Condra said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are formation-oriented, so we are going to adjust to what formation they come out in. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That is when you can see what they are doing. From there itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what are they doing out of that formation and try to make the changes accordingly.â&#x20AC;? Condra knows a little something about the defensive side of the ball. He was recruited as a quarterback at Texas Luther(See EC LINEMEN, Page 8)

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eamwork got the 2012 El Campo Ricebirds to the state championship game this year. But if those boys think for one moment that they accomplished that feat alone, their mommas should be grabbing them by the ears. And if you think that, perhaps you need a few moments of that ďŹ ne upstanding Southern tradition of discipline too. Why? Well, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, an Arkansas native, pointed out that it takes a village to raise a child. Then Ms. Hillary then went on to become a secretary of state and a possible presi-

Sure, a few of those boys ran for a truly impressive tally. Another threw the ball respectably 6+$1121 well. &5$%75(( A few more were remarkably good at stopping others from running, catching or throwing. A good many more had the guts to stand on the sidelines knowing their chance of getting into the action was dential candidate in her own right â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not virtually nil. But they showed up to every practice, dressed for the games and too shabby. proudly called themselves Ricebirds That applies to the boys in red too. The trip to Cowboys Stadium took far with the sort of courage one learns not more than just the stats recorded on the from boisterous actions but from quiet (See CLOSE-KNIT COMMUNITY, Page 6) ďŹ eld.

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Behind The Scenes Members of the El Campo waterboy team ran on the ďŹ eld during every single game throughout the year to help hydrate the RIcebirds and often the referees. Without the ball boys, waterboys and athletic trainers, none of the behind the scenes work would

be possible because these young people thrive to support their Ricebird football team. The trainers carry around everything from Band-aides to ďŹ rst aid kits on the sidelines every practice, every game and they are even there every Saturday to watch ďŹ lm.

6XSSRUWVWDIINHHSVÂś%LUGVIO\LQJKLJK By NATALIE BEDNORZ reporter@leader-news.com

Some of the most diehard Ricebird fans were not in the stadium stands this season, they were on the sidelines along with the football players. Seven students manned the sidelines for the 46 state-bound football players. They brought water, wrapped sprained ankles and kept detailed statistics. As members of the team, they were required to be there for every practice, every game and every Saturday morning to watch ďŹ lm. By the end of the season, it was safe

to say they had memorized every play in Coach Bob Gillisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; book. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I just wanted to be a part of something great,â&#x20AC;? El Campo High School junior Kaylee Martinez said. It was her ďŹ rst year to be a football trainer. That means lugging around equipment â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Band-aides, tape, ďŹ rst aid kits and anything else that players needed. Sophomore Savannah Kemberling said she became a trainer because she was interested in a future career in the medical ďŹ eld. One of her main jobs was to help the players tend to scrapes, cuts

and bruises. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think it means a lot for the players to have a constant support group,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When people start leaving the game, we are still there cheering them on and trying to pull them back into the game.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sometimes, we lose our voices,â&#x20AC;? Martinez said. The youngest of the students, ďŹ fthgrader Cade DuBroc, ran water out to the players during practices and at every timeout. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really understand how to play football when I ďŹ rst started, but now I

Diehard sports fans understand the role of superstitions on any playing ďŹ eld. Whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a team sport â&#x20AC;&#x201C; or individual â&#x20AC;&#x201C; superstitions silently sway from what you are wearing to what you will eat on game day. And for a season that was perfect (14-0) up to the state title game, the Ricebirds had their fair share of superstitions. It all started before the season began. El Campo coach Bob Gillis attended a coaching seminar before the season and was given a coin. But, it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just any coin. It was from retired coach Eddie Joseph, father of Katy High Schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coach Gary Joseph. And for those of you who arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t aware, Katy just won another Class 5A state championship last week. The championship is the seventh in school history. Gary joined the Tigers in 2004 and is 97-10 as their head coach while leading them to the 2007, 2008 and 2012 Class 5A state championships. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He gave it to me at the school and said,â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;take this and go all the way to state with itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;,â&#x20AC;? Gillis said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I had it in my pocket at every game including the championship game.â&#x20AC;? Players also contributed to the Ricebird luck. Senior All-State selection Trey Martin, and Rice pledge, said one Ricebird in particular had a quirky routine. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He wore a pair of Adidas socks every game instead of Nikes,â&#x20AC;? Martin said of Ricebird quarterback Bryce Brandl. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We kept trying to get him to switch over, but he wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t.â&#x20AC;?

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Martin did do something different of his own after the Wharton game. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wore white sleeves on my forearm every game except for one,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The game I switched to a black and white colored sleeve was Wharton and we were down for the ďŹ rst time all season at halftime. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I took the sleeve off and threw it. I wore my lucky white sleeves for the rest of the season.â&#x20AC;? Martin wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the only Ricebird with a wardrobe superstition. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I always wore the same red socks on game day,â&#x20AC;? El Campo

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defensive coordinator Wayne Condra said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know if it was a superstition, but it was something I always did.â&#x20AC;? Other players generally went to the same restaurant before kick-off. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We did the same thing every Friday and throughout the season no matter the condition,â&#x20AC;? senior Jeremy Supak said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And we did this all as a team. A group of us would also go eat at Pizza Hut every Friday.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;We did the same thing in practice every day,â&#x20AC;? senior Cole Hunt and Rice pledge. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I would also eat at Mikeskaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on

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game day every Friday. A couple of my teammates would come with me also.â&#x20AC;? Hunt was named Class 3A Defensive Player of the Year after an extraordinary season as a defensive end. And he couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take the ďŹ eld without one speciďŹ c item. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was very superstitious about my towel I wore on game day,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have it I would have to go to Academy and get another one before the next game.â&#x20AC;? Even though it may have been odd, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard to question the superstitions after a 14-1 season.

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Congrats to senior Cole Hunt for being named AP Class 3A Defensive Player of the Year!! Hunt ďŹ nished with 82 tackles, 15 sacks and 15 knockdowns for the Ricebirds this season. He also added 16 receptions for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns as a tight end.

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El Campo 2006 PeeWee Football Team Members of the El Campo 2006 Bantam Youth Superbowl Champions include ďŹ rst row from left (names in bold are members of the 2012 varsity Ricebird team): Brandon Martinez, Travis Woods, Keith Sparks, Dylan Lillie, Blayne Allgayer, Kade Ilse, Chad Wood and Brandon Shimek. Second row: John Reyna, Chris Nielsen, Marvin Shimek, Marshall Mach, James Kyle,

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Michael Wall, Chance Nohavitza, Kolton Mims and Isiah Villarreal. Third row: Hondo Espetia-Garcia, BJ Flagg, Bryce Brandl, Tobias Thornton, Walker Dowell, Timothy Delgado, Jacob Harton, Ryan Nielsen and Jeff Fiala. Back row: coaches Tracy Jones, Jeff Nohavitza and Gary Harton.

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Coach Jeff Nohavitza knew it was going to be a â&#x20AC;&#x153;butt-whippinâ&#x20AC;? when his tiny, ďŹ&#x201A;edgling group of PeeWee Ricebirds took on Ganado way back in 2005. El Campo was ďŹ elding a PeeWee football squad for the ďŹ rst time ever and going against a larger, more experienced and physical group of Indians who appeared ready to dang-near scalp their opponents. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We walk out there for warm-ups and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m looking over at Ganado and man, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know if those kids are legal or not legal, you know?â&#x20AC;? Nohavitza said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But they were big and they were geared up to play. I had told my bunch all the stuff about â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;play hard, maximum effortâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and all that. Then Ganado gets out there and does some little Indian dance or something in pre-

game and our kids looked over at me like theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re scared to death.â&#x20AC;? The fear certainly didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wane once the opening gun ďŹ red. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We ran a play early in the game and Michael Wall catches a pass and goes across the middle,â&#x20AC;? Nohavitza recalled with a chuckle. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m telling you, their middle linebacker scooped Mike up and basically body-slammed him right there on the ďŹ eld. This linebacker was like 5-6, 145 and supposed to be in the ďŹ fth grade. I knew we were in for it. I walked over to the ref and kinda said â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;hey, whatever you do ... donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop the clock for any reason. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m serious.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? Those El Campo players, many of whom were key components on this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s varsity Ricebirds who reached the Class 3A title game, took those lumps during their ďŹ rst year of organized football and learned from them.

Nohavitza said the idea of beginning a PeeWee team in El Campo was simple. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We looked around at all the other towns around here and we were about the only ones who werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t playing,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I went to Coach (Bob) Gillis and said â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;hey, we want to start a PeeWee team. Give me 15 plays that yaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll run and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll start getting them prepared for when theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re older.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The coaches thought it was a great idea and were always real supportive of what we were doing.â&#x20AC;? Even though they were still often smaller in size, the young Birds grew throughout their ďŹ rst year, won a couple games, and looked forward to the 2006 season. The year started off with a win, then the team got on a roll and started dominating. Midway through the season, they faced their old nemesis â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the bully on the block â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in Ganado. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We get ahead of them and

then just start pulling away bigtime,â&#x20AC;? Nohavitza said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our kids were loving the payback aspect of it. Mike Wall comes to me with about a minute left all excited and goes â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Coach! Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s throw the bomb on them. One more time, please?!?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; You think about it for a second, especially after the way they treated us the year before, but I reminded Mike and all the kids that Ricebirds win with class and Coach Gillis would never run up the score like that. I think it was a good lesson for them being so young and all.â&#x20AC;? The Ricebirds continued to steam roll opponents that year and eventually found themselves in the Bantam Super Bowl, where they would face Bloomington in Palacios. The two teams traded scores as the game remained tight throughout. With just over a minute left in the game, EC got the ball and faced a â&#x20AC;&#x153;5 (See PEEWEE TEAM, Page 9)

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Bi-district champs

Area round: W- Somerset 51-14

Area champs

Region IV Final: W- Ingleside 31-20

Region IV champs

State Semi-ďŹ nal: W- Carthage 29-25

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State Finals: L- Stephenville 70-35

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Âł&ORVHNQLWFRPPXQLW\VXSSRUWV5LFHELUGV (Continued from Page 2) strength. They made the standout stars better and I hope they know that. But it takes far, far more than just the runners, throwers, blockers and bench warmers to turn the little boysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; fertile dreams of glory into playoff berths. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t believe me? What about coach Bob Gillis and his staff? Those boys needed them. They provided guidance, discipline, training, shaped the plays and the plans. Without the coaches, it would be more of a football group or football gang than a team. And, that group or gang would have about as much of a chance winning a playoff football game as I would doing an ollie (thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coming from a person with slightly more dexterity than a three-month-old puppy trying to make a mad dash across a linoleum ďŹ&#x201A;oor). Then there were the girls â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Derby Dolls and cheerleaders. They too donned their Ricebird red each game with a mission. Maybe they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t keep score on pom-pom shaking and the shouting of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Go Team Go,â&#x20AC;? but could you imagine the game without them? And how about that band? Close your eyes and think about a high school football game. Can you really do that without hearing the drums and the horns? Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all part of the recipe. One part team, a dash of coaching, another of sideline cheers and two cups full of booming band. But the most important ingredient of all? That secret spice that makes it all not just bland everyday fare, but a special treat? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the red-wearing, rockrattling fans â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Ricebird Na-

CONGRATS ON A GREAT SEASON BIRDS!

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979.541-6599

We #28!

L-N Photo by Glen Frels

Still Believing

El Campo cheerleader Taylor Fuechec watches the last few minutes of the clock tick away on the jumbotron at Cowboys Stadium Dec. 14 in the Class 3A Division I state championship game. tion â&#x20AC;&#x201C; El Campoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 12th man if you approve of the common Aggie term. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re the moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, community members who care and everyone else swept up in the excitement. Whether it was Ricebird Stadium, Victoria, Beaumont or the house that Jerry Jones built, they came ready to shout, stomp, wave and banner shake â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a physical presence in any stadium.

You could hear them with your toes as the ground shook with cheers. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a power in the voice of that crowd. It can make tired bodies lunge forward one more time. It makes the pain of each impact go away. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a voice that can convert â&#x20AC;&#x153;I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;tâ&#x20AC;? into â&#x20AC;&#x153;I can do it, Coach.â&#x20AC;? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what turns a dirty, sweaty, painful struggle over an oddly-shaped piece of pigskin on a ďŹ eld of arbitrary distance into something magical.

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s war on a small scale. Victors and losers. The armyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s colors. Flag bearers and the folks back home (or in this case on the sidelines and in the stands) doing what they can for their boys. It takes a town, a village, to raise a child â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to get him in that game and give him a decent chance. And he, you, all of us El Campoans should be proud. Class 3A Division I state runners-up. 14-1. Not too shabby.

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Holding On

Ricebird senior Jack Davis holds on to Stephenville wideout Jarrett Stidham for a tackle during the second quarter of the Class 3A Division I state championship in Cowboys Stadium.

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Âł5HODWLRQVKLSVKROG5LFHELUGVWRJHWKHU (Continued from Page 4) do,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to stop being a trainer when I become a freshman because I want to play football too.â&#x20AC;? DuBroc said all the ice chests needed to be washed after game day, something he didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t expect to be so hard. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Loading ice was really heavy,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s harder than it looks. I think the ďŹ rst week of two-a-days we ran out of ice.â&#x20AC;? All the trainers had sore arms the ďŹ rst few weeks, he added. Saturdays also meant folding towels and uniforms. Towels are especially important to hand out during the games, DuBroc said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sometimes itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not your sweat that gets on you - itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mostly theirs.â&#x20AC;? Britain Zalman, a junior at ECHS, has been a trainer for the past three years. He said he loved sports, but decided not to spend his off-season in the fall running around the track to stay in shape. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sports is my life,â&#x20AC;? Zalman said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the coaches came up to me and asked me to be a trainer. I knew it would be my opportunity to be on the ďŹ eld. L-N Photo by Jon Eilts â&#x20AC;&#x153;I know it means so much Rooting Ricebird to the guys when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re back there in the locker room and Ricebird linebacker Jeremy Supak pumps up the crowd after he you are doing everything you tackled Stephenville quarterback Tyler Jones at Cowboys Stadium.

FACEBOOK FAN FEEDBACK The Leader-News asked its Facebook fans to post their reactions about the Ricebirdsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; remarkable run to the Class 3A Division I state championship game at Cowboys Stadium. Stephanie Brazeale Cortez: My favorite moment was in Beaumont after the Carthage game! It showed the heart of our team! I think that the way the town showed up to every game was awesome! It was neat to see all the red in each town we were at! Laura Hensley Motal: My favorite moment was the win over Carthage. EC was not picked to win and many Internet forums showed rude, nasty comments about EC. Our players gave it their all and never gave up and took another win that night! The tears of joy that the team and fans expressed showed the love and support we all have for Ricebird football. Then state bound we were. The support our community showed was overwhelming! â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ricebird Nationâ&#x20AC;? was in full form at the state game! The Ricebird team may not have won that night, but the team will always be winners in the eyes of our community!

it off with Santa and Ricky the Ricebird in the helicopter, my kids loved it all. Traci Bell Faas: Without a doubt the comeback to beat Carthage was amazing! It proved that our boys never gave up and that they were going to ďŹ ght for their chance to get to state! The fans were ďŹ red up and everyone was talking football! I would have loved to have seen every business painted up or displaying signs. That would have been po, but I was extremely proud an awesome sight to see! I when I was able to acknowl- wish the seniors nothing but edge to my co-workers that the best in all they do and to the El Campo football team the boys coming up, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s do it made it to the ďŹ nals. again! Go Ricebirds!

Anita Moreno: I got so excited and in tears when the good news that our Ricebirds were going to be state bound! And on that Friday morning when the buses were leaving the high school, I got so happy and I was screaming so loud, â&#x20AC;&#x153;GO RICEBIRDS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; STATE BOUND!â&#x20AC;? I even got chills! I was so excited when I saw the Hutchins students and teachers supporting the Ricebirds with their posters and waving and smiling at their Ricebirds! And then I got to take a picture of the cop escorting the buses! Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a proud fan of our Ricebirds. Everything about Bonnie L. Quintero Limthe Ricebirds is priceless and baugh: I was a freshman will always be my beautiful ECHS band member at the memories of 2012! 1967 state ďŹ nals. I now live in Fort Worth and had been Ashley Allsmilez Cruz: listening to the games online. My favorite was the pep rally I was so excited when I was for the Carthage game and able to attend the state ďŹ nal seeing all the school kids with after 45 years to cheer on my their signs supporting the hometown. I have always football players. Then topping been proud to be from El Cam-

Lisa Mcafee Bailey: When Carthage fumbled the ball and my son recovered the ball. We then scored two touchdowns and beat them 29-25. It was great the way that El Campo supported the Ricebirds and followed them to Arlington. Kim Morris Wood: I loved how the community came together during the playoffs. I (and many people helped) sold football tickets at the administration ofďŹ ce. It was fun to watch them come in each week and stand in the lobby discussing the game and what the next week would bring. The week we went to state was unreal. We sold almost 4,300 tickets in four days. The excitement and support from the community was better than anyone could have asked for. Thank you for the experience and thank you El Campo for the support you gave!

WEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;RE PROUD OF YOU!

CHERISH

THESE MEMORIES FOR A LIFETIME.

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can to get them back into good spirits,â&#x20AC;? he said. ECHS athletic trainer Cassey Janak said the studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; assistance is invaluable. Janak was chosen as the 2012 Bobby Gunn Athletic Trainer of the Year for the greater Houston area. ECHS head athletic trainer Dean Easter was also chosen for this award in 2008 when he was employed at Sealy ISD. Both oversee the trainers and help with sideline management. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They are all really good kids,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They are very appreciated around here.â&#x20AC;? The trainers, like all members of the team, received University Interscholastic League medals for being a vital part of the state runner-up team. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think the main thing we do out here is take care of them,â&#x20AC;? Zalman said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the relationships you make that hold us all together.â&#x20AC;?

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Congratulations on a great football season! We Love You, Mom, Dad & Emily

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(Continued from Page 2) an University, but switched to strong safety later in his ďŹ rst season. El Campo ďŹ nished with two shutouts on the year (31-0 over Waller and 27-0 over Needville) and held Bay City, Foster and Bellville to only one touchdown in three consecutive weeks. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pretty stout. After a remarkable 14-1 record, what is Condra most proud of this year? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am extremely proud of the effort these kids put in every day,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am proud of their intent to get better each week. And they worked hard to improve. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That was a key for us this year is that we got better each week. And that is a tribute to them and their hard work ethic.â&#x20AC;? The Ricebirds had three student-athletes, two of them on defense, earning ďŹ rst team All-State honors this season. Senior Cole Hunt was named Defensive Player of the Year in Class 3A, Trey Martin made ďŹ rst team offense as a tackle and Brett Prihoda was selected as a linebacker on the ďŹ rst team defense. Several Ricebirds earned All-District selections for their efforts on the gridiron. What was the strongest part of the Ricebird defense according to Condra? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think that our front guys did a tremendous job as far as run defense and of course putting pressure on the quarterback,â&#x20AC;? he said. I completely agree with Condra regarding the role of the front defensive guysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; performances throughout the season. To me, that is the deďŹ nition of El Campo football. Tough, hard-nosed football. And I am sure Condra would agree with me on that.

2012 RICEBIRD

FOOTBALL PLAYERS! A SEASON TO REMEMBER!

MIKESKAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S

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Rumbling Ricebird

Senior running back Montray Johnson attempts to blow past a Stephenville defender in the 70-35 El Campo loss Dec. 14 in the Class 3A Division I state championship game in Cowboys Stadium.

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Cheering On Their Ricebirds

L-N Photo by Glen Frels

Ricebird fans took everything from cowbells to jugs ďŹ lled with rocks and bolts to cheer on El Campo during the state title game against the Stephenville Yellow Jackets.

!(Â&#x2039;Â&#x20AC;Â?Â&#x201D;Â&#x2019;ÂĄ Â&#x2DC;$Â?$Â&#x2019;(Â&#x152;Â?(*|(~L(*ÂĄ Workover Services â&#x20AC;˘ Completion P.O. Box 830 â&#x20AC;˘ El Campo, TX â&#x20AC;˘ 979-543-5676


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Âł3HH:HHWHDPSURGXFHGIXWXUH5LFHELUGV (Continued from Page 5) or 6 pointâ&#x20AC;? deďŹ cit, Nohavitza recalled. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d hit a pass or make a play and then the kids would kinda shufďŹ&#x201A;e around and just kept staring at the clock,â&#x20AC;? Nohavitza said of the ďŹ nal drive. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We called a timeout and got the kids gathered up around us. I told them to quit looking at the clock until they heard the horn sound. As long as there was time left, we had a chance.â&#x20AC;? After the pep talk, the Ricebirds rallied and scored the winning TD in the ďŹ nal seconds to capture the Bantam Super Bowl Championship. That particular game played out very similarly to the 29-25 Class 3A semi-ďŹ nal victory over Carthage a few weeks ago. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was at the Carthage game and Mike is coming off the ďŹ eld and our eyes met,â&#x20AC;? Nohavitza said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He came running over to me and goes â&#x20AC;&#x153;just like PeeWee, Coach!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and I said â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;yep, just like PeeWee.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; It was funny that he remembered that game just as much as I did.â&#x20AC;? Nohavitza, whose son Chance has been a key component on the Ricebird teams through the years, said heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s enjoyed watching those tiny Bantam champs mature into young men over the years. He agreed that the idea of beginning a PeeWee team years ago likely helped lay the foundation for the success of the 2012 Ricebirds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think it helped, especially that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been running some of those same plays since they were in elementary school,â&#x20AC;? Nohavitza said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Just like in PeeWee, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not always the biggest in terms of L-N Photo by AJ Guel size, but you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t replace Ricebird heart, our pride. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Splitting The Uprights an advantage El Campo will Junior kicker Alex Montes kicks a point after touchdown during the ďŹ rst quarter at the Class 3A Division always have.â&#x20AC;? I state championship game in Arlington against the Stephenville Yellow Jackets.

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DESIRE. DETERMINATION. DEDICATION. &"!

CHANCE

NOHAVITZA STATE FINALIST 2012

WE ARE PROUD OF YOU! !( MOM, DAD, DENYA & NATALIE

CONGRATULATIONS ON AN SPECTACULAR SEASON!

WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!

Robert R. Nursey, RFC

219 West Jackson â&#x20AC;˘ El Campo â&#x20AC;˘ 979-543-4350 L-N Photo by AJ Guel

Taking Time For Faith

Members of the Ricebirds gather in the end zone for a prayer before the third quarter of the Class 3A Division I state championship game in Cowboys Stadium Dec. 14 in Arlington.

El Campo Bowling Center now featur

ing

The Strike Zone Bar & Grill

GO BIRDS! WHAT AN AWESOME YEAR! Congrats #70 James Espericueta we are proud of you! The Strike Zone

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CONGRATULATIONS

ON A AWESOME SEASON BOYS!

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9


Page 10(O&DPSR/HDGHU1HZVÂ&#x2021;6DWXUGD\'HFHPEHU

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CONGRATS RQ\RXUVHDVRQ LOVE:

0RP'DG &ODUN Above: The infamous jumbotron at Cowboys Stadium displays the two Class 3A Division I state championship teams before the game Dec. 14. L-N Photo by Jon Eilts

Below: Members of the Derby Dolls look at the clock during the fourth quarter as the Ricebirds lost to Stephenville 70-35 in Arlington. L-N Photo by Glen Frels

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Chevy Runs Deep

The New Class of World Class

El Campo 2011 N . Mechanic 979-543-3291 â&#x20AC;˘ www.DonDavisDeal.com

Leader-News Sports Coverage 12-29-12  

Leader-News Sports Coverage Entry #2 Publication Date: 12-29-12

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