In Rockdale’s James David and Cameron’s Somari Wright, a lot of experts will tell you that these two are the best at their position in their respective classes.
“They are two of the top linebackers in the state,” said Rockdale’s Jeff Miller, participat- ing in his eight Battle of the Bell. “There are lots of similarities between the two.
“They both have the idea they can make every tackle they’ want. Basically, they’re both dang good.”
Both were named to pre-season first-team All-State teams. While Wright was a unanimous All-State selection last season, David has been chosen the past two seasons.
While David has been gaining notoriety since he started as a freshman, Wright took the defensive world by storm last season as the Yoemen marched to the Class 2A state championship and Wright’s titanic effort was rewarded by being named the Class 2A player of the year.
On the year, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder made an impressive 245 stops.
“I don’t let all the awards affect me,” says Wright, who has already racked up 27 tackles in two games. “I just play the game I know.”
“He wants to play college football in the worst way,” said Cameron Coach Rick Rhoades, on the eve of his fifth Bell battle. “He has worked really hard to give himself a chance to do that.”
Unlike Wright, David’s future is secure. He received dozens of Division I offers and has already pledged to Baylor.
While the 6-foot-2, 230-pound David is not quite full speed after recovering from a knee injury suffered last season, he is starting to come around.
He was up to his old tricks last week in the Tigers’ loss to Burnet, posting a team-high 10 tackles.
In his three-plus years on the varsity, David has recorded 314 tackles.
“I just always work hard and never take a play off,” David said. “When other people mess up, I try to get them up, not to get their head down and go out an make a play.”
The two teams enter the game heading in opposite directions.
Cameron is 2- 0 and coming off a 47-0 pasting of Lexington. Despite the fact that they were both victorious, the Yoemen catapulted over Newton into the No. 1 spot in this week’s Class 2A Associated Press rankings.
The Yoemen have also won a school-record 17 straight games.
Three- year star ter Jason Kopriva (3,216 yards, 39 TDs, first-team all-state in 2012) has thrown for 362 yards and six touchdowns in two games, while a sophomore, Traion Smith, leads the ground attack with 346 yards and five touchdowns and is averaging nearly 12 yards a carry.
Rockdale is coming off a disappointing 20-9 loss to Burnet.
Of course in this game, any kind of numerical advantage you might try to imagine means zilch.
“If you’ve been around Central Texas for any time at all, you know that when Cameron and Rockdale play, all bets are off,” Rhoades said. “The thing you do know is that their kids are going to play lights out and our kids are going to play lights out, which is what makes it a great high school football game.”
One interesting trend that defies the rivalry is that the past seven games have been won by the home team.
The last time a team captured two straight was Cameron 2005- 06. The last time Rockdale won a pair was in 1976-77.
Miller was not prepared to guarantee a victory at Tigerland Field Friday.
“They don’t do much wrong,” said Miller. “ They walk out on the field expecting to win. It will take a near-flawless game to beat them.”
• How rare a feat was Adolfo Chavira’s first career (35-yard) field goal Friday night? It was just the 11th field goal in Miller’s eight years here and three of those came in his very first game as coach.
• Several Tigers suffered minor injuries against Burnet, including starting right tackle Dedrick Page (foot), who is questionable for Friday’s game. Kristian White (ankle), Pete Heintze (ankle), Austin Caffey (hyper extended elbow) and Brent Drummond (thumb) are all probable.
• Should Rockdale defeat Cameron Friday, Jeff Miller would tie Ray Birchfield for most wins by a Rockdale coach against the Yoe with four.
• James David returned to form and led the Tigers in tackles with 10. Milano transfer Tyler Prazak followed closely with nine. Prazak and Ladontice Coates top the hit list for the season with 14 each.
• All three passing marks by Clayton Gibbs Friday (45 attempts, 28 completions, 367 yards) are second-best behind recently graduated Ethan Brinkley’s records.
• Cameron senior running back Jalen White, 18, was charged with intoxication assault with vehicle causing serious bodily injury and released on $10,000 bond. White played in the first game and carried the ball once.
• Fifty years ago, the Rockdale junior varsity thumped the Cameron junior varsity 80-0. Quarterback Robert Jensen ran for two scores and threw for three. Led by Coach Duane Vincent, the JV outscored their opponents 282-6 in their 8-0 season.
• As far as District 18-3A is concerned, Rockdale is the only squad to suffer defeat. Madisonville, Taylor and Caldwell all registered their first wins of the year and all league teams, other than Navasota, are 1-1. Caldwell’s victory was the first for former star Bobby Jack Goforth.
• Quarterback Clayton Gibbs (564 yards passing) and his receivers Pudgy Burgess (16-186) and Pearce Loth (16-239) lead the district in their respective categories.
• Cameron’s roster includes 24 seniors.
• Cameron’s home, District 13-2A, Division I, was called the state’s toughest 2A district by Texas Football. The football bible tabbed Newton as the probable state champ.
• Former Cameron All-State nose guard Edgar Luna is playing at Blinn and has made three tackles in the 1-2 Bucaneers three games.
• For those who took the suggestion to eat at Post Mountain barbecue last week in Burnet, turns out the joint is owned by Bill and Susie Pell, who are relatives of Rockdale’s Pud Owens. Susie is an Owens and her mother was named Wilma, which of course is the name of Pud’s lovely wife. Terry Owens informed me that there are actually four Wilmas in the family. By the way, the food was fantastic.