That’s at least what many think of La Marque, a 4A powerhouse for years, who is once again advancing in the postseason. After a couple down years, La Marque (7-3) is back in the playoffs for the first time in three years and seemingly back to its old self headed into Saturday’s UIL 4A Division II playoff game against Houston Yates.
The Cougars are coming off a 28-21 win against El Campo (9-1) in the bi-district round that was won by a last minute 67 yard TD pass to running back Tim Wright from Mandy Williams. Wright was hurt and had both ankles heavily taped but fought through the pain to lead the Cougars to victory. Williams has been hurt and held from fully practicing but is expected to play Saturday.
La Marque is known for deep playoff runs, as noted by their 5 state titles, 8 state title games and 14 regional finals appearances in 15 years from 1993-2007. Some fans are anxious to see how far they go next.
“I think La Marque is gonna do what they do best,” said one fan, who teaches in La Marque ISD.
In order to re-establish the tradition, the Cougars must first take down the Yates Lions, which is hardly an easy task because of Yates fast and athletic defense.
The Lions will be tasked with stopping Wright, who has rushed for 173.5 yards per game and was on the verge of easily running for more than 2,000 yards before injuries and an in-game suspension late in the season derailed his campaign. Currently, he has rushed for 1,735 yards on 189 carries in 10 games this season.
“He’s a good quality back,” said Yates head coach Ronald Miller. “Good high school running backs can set the tone for the football team and he seems to be a very good one.”
Meanwhile, La Marque head coach Darrell Jordan is fully aware of the challenge that lies ahead. Yates is one of the few teams in the bracket that can match up with the Cougars size, speed and athleticism. And the Cougars, as one of the smallest 4A schools in the state, lack depth. Jordan knows that If his team doesn’t come out ready to play, it could be a long day.
“They’re athletic, big and fast, ” he said. “If you don’t respect them and look past them then one need only look at what happened around the state last week to see what could happen to us.”
La Marque also has to stop the Yates’ rushing attack, which averaged over 200 yards a game in the regular season. The Lions were led by Tadarius Limbrick (13.74 yards per carry for 1, 127 in 11 games), as well Ricky and Rashad Jackson, the latter of which is the team’s quarterback.
But the respect is mutual from the Lions point of view. Miller praised La Marque’s tradition and felt they were a tougher team than some give them credit for.
“They’re a team that’s been under the radar because they’ve been in a good district and suffered some losses early on in district,” he said. “What you see is a quality team–an outstanding running back and quarterback.”
The teams will do battle on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Houston’s Delmar Stadium.