PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

PA News Sports

October 28, 2011

Local coaches study UIL policy switch

David Coleman's prep notepad

PORT ARTHUR —   A week after the University Interscholastic League passed new rules that reduced the number of two-a-day practices teams can hold before the season, reaction was mixed among area coaches.

 The new rules will not allow two practices in the same day during the first four days of fall camp, but will allow for one full practice and one walkthrough on the same day during that time. The sessions also must be at least two hours apart.

 For Port Neches-Groves head coach Brandon Faircloth and Port Arthur Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison, the changes will not have much effect. Both teams already hold spring practices, which limits them to two weeks of practice before the first game of the season instead of three.

 That difference in the number of practices might send more teams in Class 5A and 4A to hold spring workouts.

 “I think you’ll see a lot of people moving to spring practices,” Faircloth said. “I have never known another way, because we’ve always held spring practices wherever I’ve coached. Our kids here love it, love being able to play in the spring.”

 While both Nederland and PN-G already hold breaks of about 90 minutes between practices, they will have to move things around a bit in the future. Memorial had already split its practices up to morning and night practices during two-a-days.

 While Harrison won’t have to make as many changes to his schedule, he also sees a scenario that will keep teams away from spring ball, especially if they have a large contingent of players who also play baseball.

 “We get most of our work done in the spring,” Harrison said. “I think spring practices will become more important, but I also think people will start utilizing all their practices in the spring. Some programs don’t use all 18 practices, so that might change.

 “At the same time, if a team has a bunch of guys in baseball and they make the playoffs, they won’t be done until May. That makes it hard to practice with a whole team.”

 Nederland head coach Larry Neumann isn’t planning on moving to a spring practice schedule and admits the new rules will take some getting used to. However, he echoes the sentiment of all three coaches than any rules to keep players safe are welcome and necessary.

 “The last thing we want is anything heat-related,” Neumann said. “One of the things I’m proudest of in my years as a coach is that we’ve never had a heat issue with a player. I think the rules are well-meaning, but it won’t make us switch to spring practice.

 “More than the extra week of practices, the second scrimmage against another team is what we value. We did go to spring ball once, but would rather have that second scrimmage to evaluate players before the season.”

                    *    *    *

 With only two weeks left in the regular season, let’s take a look at how the playoff races are shaping up.

District 21-5A

 Locks: Memorial, La Porte

 Playoff bubble: West Brook

 Make their own destiny: Channelview, North Shore

 Notes: This week’s game between Memorial and La Porte may be playing for the district title this Friday, but both teams have already locked up playoff berths.

 North Shore, the preseason district favorite, will have a game against Channelview to end the season and if the Mustangs win out, they’ll lock in another playoff spot. West Brook has to play the Falcons this week and end the season with La Porte. With a loss to North Shore in the books already, the Bruins must beat Channelview to have a head-to-head tiebreaker over the other two potential playoff teams.

 If either North Shore or West Brook fall out of the playoffs, Memorial would go into Division 1 and would likely match up against either Deer Park or Pasadena Dobie, the top two teams in 22-5A in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

District 20-4A

 Locks: Nederland

 Playoff bubble: Livingston, Beaumont Ozen

 Make their own destiny: Vidor, PN-G

 Notes: The only certainty this week is that Nederland has locked up a playoff spot. There are four other teams fighting for three remaining spots. Vidor needs to beat either PN-G this week or Livingston next week to ensure a playoff spot.

 It’s Ozen’s victory over Livingston last week that throws things into even more chaos than normal. Much like in 21-5A, the preseason district favorite Livingston Lions might not even make the playoffs. If the Indians win out and Vidor beats the Lions in Week 10, Livingston is out regardless of what Ozen does this week against Nederland.

 Just to prove that this district is wide open, if Vidor loses both its remaining games, the Pirates would need a Central victory over PN-G in Week 10, a Livingston loss to LC-M this week or an Ozen loss to Nederland to stay alive. Otherwise, a 7-3 team would be sitting at home for the playoffs.

District 21-3A

 Locks: West Orange-Stark

 Playoff bubble: Orangefield, Hamshire-Fannett

 Make their own destiny: Bridge City, Silsbee

 Notes: With a victory over Bridge City last week, West Orange-Stark locked up a playoff spot. They can ensure a share of the district title with a victory over Silsbee this week. Bridge City plays both 1-2 teams in Orangefield and Hamshire-Fannett, so one victory in those two games gives them one of the playoff spots.

 Silsbee needs to beat either WO-S or H-F to also lock up a playoff spot. H-F can still get a spot in the playoffs, but they will need to win one of the final two games and hope Orangefield loses both to Bridge City and Hardin-Jefferson. If that happens, H-F could make the playoffs with a 3-7 record.

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