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Setting the pace

Bruce having breakthrough season for Bearcats

Injuries prevented Javon Bruce from tapping into his potential in 2018, but so far this year, he’s having a breakthrough season, putting the Bearcats in the thick of the race for the district championship.

The Pilot Point senior leads the Bearcats in rushing and scoring with 629 yards and 12 touchdowns in six games. He is averaging 7.7 yards per carry and could be on his way to a season totaling more than 1,000 yards.

Bearcats head coach Danny David said he has definitely noticed a difference in Bruce’s physical form this season.

“He is stronger,” he said. “He’s faster, and he’s healthy. He got hurt last year at this time in our Whitesboro game and never really rebounded. Physically, he just looks better; he had a good track season. He’s faster, and he gets after it in the weight room.”

It’s always a good feeling to have a threat like Bruce on the team, David said, and his work ethic can be seen on the field.

“He’s a complete package,” he said. “He can catch. He can run with power. He’s got speed. He is threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. He’s worked hard, and everything that is happening for him, he deserves it.”

Bruce is averaging twice as many yards per game and has already rushed for 341 more yards in the first six games of the season than he did last year. His midseason injury last year prevented him from finishing the season but pushed him to work harder during the off-season and be in the position he is in now.

“Honestly, last year I was a key player, but I was not as big as I am this year,” he said. “I just used that as motivation, I knew what I was capable of doing and I wanted to execute it and bring it out during my senior year.”

Bruce said he worked hard during the off-season. Most of his summer was spent watching film from previous games, hitting the weight room every day and doing drills with his older brothers.

“We worked out all the time,” he said. “I wasn’t big physically and I wasn’t smart for the game. I worked on what I needed to do and what I had to do to be a good player this year.”

Following all that hard work from the summer, Bruce has carried the ball 82 times in six games and has had three 100-plus games. In last week’s win over Whitesboro, he rushed 23 times for 215 yards, including one carry for 70 yards, and scored four times. He scored two of the Bearcats’ three touchdowns in their win over Brock in the district opener.

The best part of it all, he is healthy going into the latter part of the season.

“Hard work definitely does pay off,” he said. “I felt like I always had that in me, and I had the chance to show it last Friday. It felt good, and I look forward to doing it again.”

Bruce said he is very competitive, and he doesn’t like losing. He said he tries to push his teammates and everyone around him to work harder.

“It just pushes me to go harder,” he said.

Despite his competitive drive, Bruce understands the importance of working toward the same goal as a team.

“It’s always going to be the best 11 on the field,” he said. “I just work hard every day in practice to try to be the best. I don’t take any snaps for granted in the game, and I make sure I take advantage of every touch I get. I think that is what got me the starting position.”

Bruce has put himself on the radar for college recruiters. He said he’s talked to coaches but has received no official offers yet.

“But that is OK,” he said. “There is still a long way to go in the season. While I do plan to get an offer for football, I know things don’t always go your way, so I do plan to go to college and get a degree in business.”

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