The Port Arthur News
The first thing Nederland head coach Larry Neumann noticed about senior Luke DeLord about three years ago was his motor. DeLord was always going at a high speed in practice and in games. Unfortunately, injuries derailed each of the last two seasons for the senior safety, but in his last season with the varsity DeLord has been healthy and very effective.
“I did pretty good until my injury,” DeLord said. “I’m really thankful for the year I’ve had so far. The mindset I had this year was whatever
happens, happens. You can’t play halfway with my shoulder. I knew there were things I couldn’t do, so I went in knowing it’s my final year and you have to go all out and not worry about things injury-wise.”
DeLord’s sophomore season was cut short because of a back injury. Last season, he was playing at a high level but had another season-ending injury to his shoulder.
That one required surgery and meant DeLord has to wear a harness on it this season. It took him some time to get used to playing with it, but he hardly notices that he was hurt at this point in the season.
“I’ve got a harness on it, so it makes me feel a little more secure with it,” DeLord said. “That’s also why I had the surgery, to make it more secure. Maybe the first game (against West Orange-Stark), I thought about it a little bit, but it hasn’t bothered me so far.”
According to Neumann, DeLord’s motor can make his injuries very frustrating. For a player who is constantly going at 110 percent, having his body fail on him hasn’t always been the most fun.
“Because of his mental approach, those injuries can wear on him,” Neumann said. “He’s a real conscientious player. He tries very hard not to repeat mistakes. He’s very tuned into what his coaches tell him, but when his body can’t do what his mind tells it to it frustrates him.”
Thus far this year, DeLord has avoided another big injury and the results speak for themselves. The 5-foot-10, 175 pounder has been in on 62 tackles and recovered a fumble. Nederland’s defense is well suited for a player with DeLord’s skills.
Depending on what the Bulldogs need, DeLord can either play from his spot at strong safety or move down into the box as an extra linebacker. That means Nederland can confuse opposing offenses by shifting its personnel around.
“It allows us to change scheme without changing personnel,” Neumann said. “That keeps the offense off balance and means they are less likely to key on what we’re going to do defensively. Luke can play in space, where his athleticism and toughness are real assets. He has to be mentally prepared for all the scheme changes, but he does well playing in there at middle linebacker. He doesn’t have a huge body but he pours it in there.”
DeLord enjoys the movement because it keeps things fresh when he’s on the field.
“I kind of like the change,” DeLord said. “If it’s more of a running team, they’ll put me inside with the linebackers. If it’s more of a passing team, they’ll put me outside on the No. 2 receiver. They’re totally two different things, so you have to be zoned in on what you’re doing.”
BULLDOG BITES: DeLord is considering attending the University of Houston or Texas A&M, but doesn’t think he’ll try to pursue playing football at the next level. The son of Craig and Stephanie DeLord is also thinking about majoring in one of the sciences . . . Nederland will host a city-wide pep rally Thursday at 7 p.m. in the
Dome Gym. Players from the 1965 Nederland team, which was the last team to win an outright district title before 2011, have been invited to the pep rally
and will be recognized there. One of the assistant coaches on that team, Neal Morgan, is going to speak at the pep rally. Morgan is also writing a guest column on the 1965 Bulldogs for Thursday’s Port Arthur News . . . Nederland lost the coin flip with Goose Creek Memorial and will be the visiting team at the neutral site matchup Friday. It marks not only the third time the two teams have faced each other this season, but the third time Nederland has been the visitors. … Neumann expects to have both junior defensive tackle Brock Pryor and senior running back Edwin Nelson back from their respective injuries this week. Both missed last week’s game against Little Cypress-Mauriceville. … Playoff tickets went on sale for Nederland’s game at Provost-Umphrey Stadium on Tuesday and will be sold through Friday. On Wednesday and Thursday, ticket sales will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday will be held from 8 a.m. through noon. Tickets will cost $6 and $3 during pre-sale and $7 at the gate. Gold Cards will also be honored at the game. … Running back Troy Benjamin finished the regular season with 1,060 yards and 13 touchdowns, topping the 1,000-yard mark with two straight excellent games. Benjamin combined for 358 rushing yards in his final two games against LC-M and Beaumont Ozen . . . Nederland fans unable to attend Friday night’s game will not be able to hear over KLVI (560-AM). The Beaumont station is contractually committed to carrying Lamar’s Friday night basketball opener against Arkansas State. A live broadcast of Nederland-Goose Creek Memorial will be available at www.panews.com.