FREEPORT — The Brazosport Exporters left Sealy last week with a District 13-4A D-1 win and a big momentum boost, having knocked off one of the state’s top-ranked teams.
They also left that game behind and went back to work.
“They’re focused after the big win. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going,” head football coach Mark Kanipes said. “We take things week by week around here; just win today.”
El Campo (1-1, 5-1) is the focus this week for the Ships (1-0, 4-1), who will host the Ricebirds at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hopper Field.
Brazosport has builts its early success around a strong ground game and solid defense, as running backs Daraell Preston and Paul Woodard carry the load for the Ships. Preston is fourth in the district with 538 yards on 84 carries and seven touchdowns, while Woodard has contributed 216 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns.
“They’ve been running hard and are great with ball security, something we practice every day,” Kanipes said.
The defense ranks third overall in the district, giving up 243.8 yards per game, but its average of 64.6 yards through the air is a league best. All-state selection Kevin Davis anchors the secondary, but shutting down opponents has been a team effort.
“We’re a big gap-responsibility defense,” Kanipes said. “Our coaches have been coaching well and players have been playing hard and buying into what we want to accomplish.”
El Campo will challenges that defense with its run-heavy offense. Averaging 360.5 yards per game, 322.2 comes on the ground.
“They got three good running backs and a big offensive line,” Kanipes said. “It’s going to be a big, physical match-up for us.”
The Ricebirds feature the No. 2 running back in the district, Johntre Davis, who has 815 yards on 118 carries and 11 touchdowns. His complement in the rushing attack is Charles Shorter with 522 yards on 63 carries and eight touchdowns.
While the two teams have a similar record and similar stats, Brazosport has faced a tougher schedule. The Exporter’s opponents are 14-12 this season, while the Ricebirds’ foes are 10-22. Half of those wins belong to Needville, which handed El Campo its only loss, 47-27.
Those numbers don’t mean much to Kanipes, though.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” he said.
The teams have split their last two meetings by identical 34-28 scores, with Brazosport winning last year’s contest in El Campo.