Going into the 2012 football season the Bridge City Cardinals set as their goal to make the playoffs for a school record fourth consecutive season. Coach Cris Stump admits the Cardinals had their up and downs through last season finishing the year with 5 wins and 6 losses, but they did reach their goal of making the playoffs again.

Making the playoffs has not been the problem for Bridge City the last four seasons. The problem is the Coldspring Trojans have been the opponent in those playoffs, and that has spelled early elimination for the Cardinals each year. Coach Stump says his team has a new goal for this season. "The guys set a goal back in February to get past the first round go two, three, four rounds deep," Stump admitted.

Coming into this season the Bridge City faithful were counting on big things from outstanding running back Ashton Hunter who ran for 1355 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012. A freak accident during a workout caused a knee injury that will cost the Cardinals the use of Ashton for the season. Coach Stump is proud of the work Hunter is still putting in to rehab the knee, but meanwhile Stump is looking for a replacement. Among the possible candidates to replace Hunter are senior Jonah Lemoine who saw some playing time last season, Jett Simmons is a junior, and sophomore Colt Poole will get a chance to start. Stump speculated some freshmen may even carry the ball some this season.

No speculation on who the starting quarterback will be in 2013 for the Bridge City Cardinals, it will be junior Chase Shuggart. "Great competitor, I think he’s going to do a good job for us, I think he’s going to surprise some people with what he can do, very confident in his abilities, he’s already taking on the leadership role," Stump observed.

The Cardinals return starters Jordan Schamber and Jackson Roberts in the offensive line. Both stand about six feet and weigh-in around 250 pounds. A newcomer to the offense may be Josh Henry who Coach Stump believes possesses some unknown talents as a wide receiver. Stump thinks if a few new kids come through the Bridge City offense will be better than it was last year.

Coach Stump plans to build his defense around the experience of returning starters Josh Henry at defensive end and Jordan Schamber at defensive tackle. "They’re going to bring that experience from last year and actually the year before, they’ll be three-year varsity players, and they’ve kind of taken on that role," Stump explained. Stump has found a replacement for Zach Cole who was a three-year starter at middle linebacker in Hunter Uzzle who played an outside linebacker last season. Uzzle is affectionately called a gym rat, and Stump is glad to have him on his side of the field.

Workouts and two-a-days start on August 5 for Coach Stump and the Cardinals. One area that Stump feels good is at place kicker where Thomas Findley returns. Stump said Findley was a strong contributor to last year’s playoff season at Bridge City, and added Findley does not have the normal place kicker’s mentality. Findley put in many hours in the weight room during the off season which has his kicks sounding different, louder, because he’s stronger analyzed Stump.

Another area inspiring more confidence for Coach Stump heading into the upcoming workouts is the number of returning players the Cardinals have. "This year we do have some guys returning that played last year, that do have varsity experience and not as young as we were last year, and I expect us to be farther along on both sides of the ball, you know these guys have been doing the same stuff for a while," Stump concluded.

-Dan Perrine, KOGT-