The Port Arthur News
Brandon Faircloth and his 2-0 Port Neches-Groves Indians did not have to wait long after being West Orange-Stark to be reminded the schedule only gets harder from here on out.
PN-G fans have waited since 1996 for the Indians to beat the Mustangs and now that huge hurdle might look like a speed bump considering PN’G’s opponent Thursday. Fans of the purple and white will be headed to Humble’s Turner Stadium, to watch the Indians face off again Class 4A No. 4 Summer Creek, the No. 4 ranked team in 4A. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
If PN-G followers thought Silsbee and WO-S were talented, Faircloth will be quick to point out the Bulldogs are a state championship contender for a reason.
“Our non-district schedule has to be one of the toughest in the entire state on every level,” Faircloth said. “I am not sure we planned it that way but going back to our scrimmage against Texas City, this will be the fourth straight ranked opponent we will face. These games will for sure get us ready for District 20-4A. All you can hope for is we come out of this game healthy and playing at a high level.”
One of the biggest challenges facing Faircloth and his Indians against Summer Creek is a returning quarterback who threw for over 3,000 yards in 2012. The Bulldogs Aaron Sharp is the two-time reigning District 19-4A MVP. He threw for 3,076 yards in 2012 with 38 touchdowns and was 173-for-270 passing.
Sharp is not alone when the Bulldogs are on offense. Tailback Jordan Braden had over 600 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012 and receiver Torrey Johnson, a three-year starter, finished with nearly 800 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.
Braden was the difference in Summer Creek’s 54-14 win over PN-G last year, rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns. As a team the Bulldogs piled up 330 rushing yards.
Week Zero of this year saw Summer Creek defeat South Houston 78-13 behind 233 yards passing by Sharp. Included were three touchdowns.
“Summer Creek really has no weakness,” Faircloth said. “Sharp is the defending state champ in the 200 in track and the offensive line has three guys who have lettered for three years. Their defense is very fast and there is just DI talent all over the field. It is a test we need.”
While Faircloth loves nothing more than playing games at The Reservation he knows at some point during district the Indians will have games on the road. PN-G plays at Lumberton, Nederland and Beaumont Ozen during the district schedule. So tonight’s game being in Humble does not bother him a bit.
“It is good for our team we have a game on the road,” Faircloth added. “It is going to take us protecting the ball and getting a few stops on defense to pull out a victory. This is a huge test for our team. We have had a great week of practice and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
PN-G does have the momentum of its 2-0 start and that first win over West Orange-Stark since before most of its players were born to carry into the game. The Indians racked up 424 yards of offense and scored four times on plays over 40 yards. Tailback Brant Halfin had 197 yards rushing and three touchdowns against the Mustangs, while quarterback Ky Walker finished with 242 yards passing and two scores.
“It was an exciting win there is no doubt about that,” Faircloth said. “We had to put that win in the closet 24 hours after the game was over. We have to have all our focus on Summer Creek because they are such a talented football team. It is also a short week for us and Summer Creek had last week off so they have had much more time to prepare.
“We basically had two days to get ready and that can either be good or bad. One of the best things to do when coming off a huge, emotional win or loss is to hurry and get back on the field.”