LA PORTE —
The Titans of history keep rolling along.
No. 8 state ranking.
This week, they’ll try to carve another place in history for themselves. Memorial has never beaten La Porte in four tries. More importantly, the Titans could guarantee themselves at least a piece of the District 21-5A title by beating the Bulldogs in La Porte at 7 p.m. Friday.
While La Porte won the two teams’ only district meeting last year, the Titans were without one key contributor in running back Nathan Holmes. The senior missed last year’s game with an injury, but the way he’s been playing Holmes could play a big role this time around.
“All five of our linemen are playing very well,” Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison said. “The last few weeks, we’ve been taking what the other team gives us and not really focusing on one area. This week, we’re going to need to be sound in our protection, because they are going to blitz on every down.”
Holmes is leading District 21-5A with 1,035 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns this season. Quarterback Terrence Singleton is second in the district in rushing with 859 yards on 108 carries with 10 touchdowns.
Add in 291 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Kenneth Mayfield and the Titans have the best rushing attack in the district. That fact could turn this Friday’s game into a quick-moving, rush-fest.
La Porte holds a slight edge for second place in 21-5A with 1,657 rushing yards, but that’s over 600 yards less than Memorial. The Bulldogs will also go up against Memorial without stellar running back Anthony Webb, who played in all four previous games and scored eight rushing touchdowns in those meetings.
In his place is senior Keith Whitley, who has 798 rushing yards and eight touchdowns this season. The Bulldogs also have a duo of sophomores in Johnathan Lewis and Taejon Wearen who has combined for another 522 yards and five touchdowns.
“They are pretty loaded on offense,” Harrison said. “They’ve got a bunch of sophomore kids who can play. Their sophomore class is really contributing and will be good for the next couple of years. They are going to do what they do on offense, which is run the ball.”
The Titans defense has been severely tested the past two weeks with the aerial attacks of both Channelview and West Brook. Now, only La Porte has given up more passing yards in 21-5A, but the Titans and Bulldogs also boast the two best defenses statistically in the district.
However, the Bulldogs also sport the second-lowest offensive passing total in the district. Quarterback Josh Vidales has completed 52 percent of his passes for 584 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
“He does a good job running the offense,” Harrison said. “He doesn’t have a lot of turnovers and puts the ball in the hands of their playmakers.”
Instead of throwing the ball, the Bulldogs will try to pound out a win on the ground. That won’t be easy, since they will be running into the teeth of Memorial’s defense, it’s front seven.
Not only have the Titans linebackers been playing well lately (the four totaled 29 tackles and one sack against West Brook), but the defensive line has been very good.
Senior Matthew Romar was consistently disruptive against the Bruins and sophomore end Melbrodrick Matthews won a second straight DL of the Week award by taking on blockers in the backfield and generally doing the grunt work to set up all those tackles by linebackers.
“We feel good about our front seven,” Harrison said. “The past couple of weeks, those spread teams have taken them out of the game a bit. This week, they get to play a more physical game and I think they welcome that challenge.”
Port Arthur Memorial at La Porte
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Where: Bulldog Stadium
Records: Memorial (8-0, 3-0 in 21-5A); La Porte (7-1, 3-0)
Last year: La Porte 37-13
Series: La Porte leads 4-0
Internet: audio at legacysportsnetwork.com, www.panews.com
Radio: KOLE-AM 1340