The Port Arthur News
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
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
“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
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).