PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Nederland

October 28, 2011

Dogs eye 20-4A title

NEDERLAND — One team is looking to win a district title. One is

fighting for its playoff life.

    If the Nederland football team beats Beaumont Ozen at 7:30 p.m. Friday

at Bulldog Stadium, and Vidor loses to Port Neches-Groves,

the Bulldogs will win an outright district title for the first time

since 1965. Ozen won’t be out of the playoff picture with a loss, but

things will get tougher for them if they can’t pull off the upset this

week.

    Fans can watch a replay of the game at 10:30 p.m. on Fox 4, on the Port Arthur News Friday Night Experience.

    If Nederland needed any more motivation, its players can look back on

last year’s shootout where Panthers quarterback David “Trey” Green

almost ran past the Bulldogs singlehandedly.

    “We don’t have to create something for motivation this week,”

Nederland head coach Larry Neumann said. “Our team remembers last year

and that (Ozen) victory the other night over Livingston gives them

lots of motivation. They’re going to come in here ready to play.

That’s good for us to be in that mode, because these are the kinds of

games we’ll play in the playoffs.”

    The best defense in 20-4A will have its hands full with Green. Last

year, the dynamic senior threw for 383 yards and five touchdowns

against Nederland. To put that in perspective, Nederland has given up

just 389 passing yards total in eight games this season.

    Green, who got a late start this season coming off a knee injury, has

passed for 946 yards, completing 61.3 percent of his

passes with nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

In addition to Green, the Panthers also have an explosive running back

in Jakobi Jones, who leads 20-4A with 898 rushing yards and has 11

touchdowns this season.

    “There is no way you can simulate that in practice,” Neumann said.

“You can try to remember from last year’s game, but it’s difficult to

prepare for. No one can simulate Green or Jones.

We haven’t seen that kind of speed since the West Orange-Stark game.”

    Nederland’s defense has been playing very well this season and posted

a second consecutive shutout last week against Lumberton. The Bulldogs

have only given up 13.4 points per game this season and less than 11

points in five district games.

    Ozen, on the other hand, has the third-lowest point total in 20-4A,

ahead of just Central and Lumberton. Coincidentally, those were also

the two teams Nederland shut out recently. Those scoring numbers may

be misleading, as Ozen has the fourth-best offense statistically. They

just have had trouble scoring points.

    “They have big play people,” Neumann said. “It’s all about preventing

the next big play. If we can get them huddling up again instead of

kicking an extra point, we’ll have done a good job. We’re going to

have to tackle well and play a fundamentally sound game in this one.”

    One thing Nederland has done a very good job of this season is

avoiding turnovers. The Bulldogs have only lost two fumbles all season

and have a plus-5 turnover margin for the season.

    Part of that success has been on the offense, which has been playing

well in recent weeks. Against Lumberton, however, the Bulldogs had a

bumpy first half that left Neumann wondering how his team would

respond.

    “We didn’t have the smoothest first half and I walked into the locker

room at halftime not knowing what to expect,” Neumann said. “No one

was panicked behind what happened in the first half. They were

clear-eyed, focused and ready to play in the second half.”

    The Nederland offense is clicking in both phases lately. Senior

running back Troy Benjamin is third in the district in rushing yards

with 699 and 10 touchdowns. Quarterback Carson Raines has passed for

1,053 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions while Michael

Shaw is second in the district with 27 catches for 386 yards and four

touchdowns.

    Nederland is also a very balanced offense right now, having rushed for

1,309 yards and passed for another 1,127 yards this season. The only

other team in the district with less than 200 yards difference between

the two is PN-G (1,297 rush, 1,455 pass).

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