PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

August 13, 2013

Wednesday's HS football talking points

Some things to talk about while I try and stop jinxing every player I write about in my fantasy column...

1) Titan offensive line together

The Port Arthur Memorial offensive line has a chance to be dominant this year. They’re big and powerful and there’s lots of them. In the spring, Memorial worked without starting left tackle Vernon Samuels and starting left guard Dekovin Antoine. That just added to the depth the Titans possess in that unit.

With the first scrimmage coming up fast, it also doesn’t leave Memorial much time to develop its best five-man unit. That hasn’t been a problem so far, according to head coach Kenny Harrison.

“We do a lot of game situations,” Harrison said. “We do a lot of work with the d-line along with group work and team work. That should help them mesh and jell together. Both of them (Samuels and Antoine) were starters last year, so they understand the position and what we expect out of them.”

One big factor will be how well Casey Williams fills in for departed two-year starter Toan Nguyen at center. Williams put in extra work in the offseason, though, and has become a solid player at the pivot for the Titans.

“Casey is an extremely dedicated young man, ” Harrison said. “He snapped in 7-on-7 and came out here this summer, snapping 100 to 200 balls per day. He’s working extremely hard to get better. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s doing better.”

2) No 1s on 1s for Nederland

Every practice in the spring, Port Arthur Memorial did it.

Every day this fall, Port Neches-Groves does it.

Yet, you won’t catch Nederland doing it at all. Fourteen practices into the 2013 season and Nederland doesn’t really go first team on first team. Head coach Larry Neumann explains that it’s by design and is not a new thing for the Bulldogs.

“We have on purpose not gone 1s on 1s,” Neumann said. “ I kind of know what we’ll get if we did that, and I hope we just bring that on Friday night against West Orange-Stark. If we’re disappointed on our physicality, we might go a little more often 1 on 1 before we play Dayton, but I hope we don’t have to do that.”

Each team operates a little different. Neumann acknowledged that his team may change that if they don’t look ready enough against West Orange-Stark on Friday. However, the plan for Nederland’s practices is also practical, since the Bulldogs have many starters playing both ways, especially on the lines and in the secondary.

3) Spotlight on PN-G's Brant Halfin

One of the many problems for the Port Neches-Groves offense last season was speed at the running back position. Even if the offensive line played well and opened holes, there were times when the runner couldn't get there in time.

Enter Brant Halfin, a junior moved up from the JV for this season. Halfin brings exactly what the Indians needed, an ability to break big plays.

"The first thing he brings is speed," PN-G head coach Brandon Faircloth said. "We don't always get that around here — someone who can really run. He's an 80-yard touchdown guy. Every play, he has a chance to go 80 yards. He's fast. In our scrimmage on Saturday, he went 50 yards for a touchdown on a draw."

If not for an injury last year, Halfin would have already been moved up to varsity. Better late than never, though.  The junior will give PN-G more than just speed. Halfin is a well-rounded back who has embraced blocking and reminds Faircloth of a couple other Indian 1,000 yard rushers.

"He's intelligent and tough, " Faircloth said. "He loves football and we're excited about him. He blocks well and understands pass protection. We've told him a 100 times (to embrace blocking), so it's good that he's doing that. He's got good hands and can catch the football out of the backfield. Coach Shexnider has done a great job with him. I think he's going to be an asset for our offense."

David Coleman is a sportswriter for the Port Arthur News. He can be emailed atdcoleman@panews.com and found on Twitter at @MDavidColeman.

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