, Port Arthur, Texas

November 18, 2013

Faircloth pleased with 2013 Indians season

Gabriel Pruett
The Port Arthur News

PORT NECHES — Coach Brandon Faircloth and his Port Neches-Groves Indians entered the 2013 season with a chip on their shoulder and a goal of erasing all memories of 2012.

The Indians started 2012 with a 21-20 win over Silsbee, then would only win one game the rest of the season — 34-25 over Lumberton. PN-G lost its final six games of the year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Faircloth asserted all season long the Indians should always be in the postseason. He believes the purple and white fans deserve it and that every student from every grade level should expect PN-G in the playoffs.

The Indians of 2013 would not be denied a spot in the playoffs. in back-to-back years. The last time that happened was in 2005 and 2006. PN-G missed out in 2005 on a coin flip.

“There is no doubt I am proud of this team,” Faircloth said. “The first goal we set when we got started in January was that we would get back into the playoffs. The coaches on my staff and the players deserve all the credit.”

PN-G did not always make it easy for Faircloth. He said multiple times this season this group of Indians was making him grow older almost on a weekly basis.

It started back in Week 1 against the West Orange-Stark Mustangs, a team PN-G had not defeated in 17 years.

The Indians led 37-21 in the fourth quarter before the Mustangs made a charge. WO-S scored 13 unanswered points but PN-G held on for a 37-34 win.

PN-G suffered its first loss in District 20-4A against Little Cypress-Mauriceville, 31-14. The loss dropped PN-G to 1-1 with district favorites Beaumont Central and Nederland coming up in the next two weeks.

It took three overtimes for the Indians to take down the Jaguars, 30-29, in what proved to be a very critical win, considering PN-G lost to Nederland the following week, 21-17.

Two weeks later the Indians did it to Faircloth’s heart again.

PN-G trailed Beaumont Ozen 21-7 in the fourth quarter, and a loss would have sent the Panthers to the playoffs. Had that happened, PN-G would be at home again in the postseason.

Backup quarterback Adam Morse ran in a touchdown and so did star receiver Jeremiah Rose to inch the Indians closer. Dylan East missed a PAT after Morse’s run and a two-point attempt failed after Rose’s touchdown leaving PN-G down 21-19.

PN-G’s defense did its job by getting the ball back.  With only seconds left on the clock East got his redeeming chance. He booted an 18-yard field goal that sent the Indians into the playoffs.

Crosby defeated PN-G 49-28 last Friday to end the Indians year at 7-4.

“Those close games are a testament to our team’s character,” Faircloth said. “Those guys fought every minute of every game. We never felt we were out of a game, even in the final loss. We fought. It is remarkable how those guys never gave up. That is what this team should be remembered for.”

The team will also be remembered as a team full of offense, and a defense that always seemed to give the Indians the ball back when it needed it the most.

Rose finished with 90 receptions for 1,176 yards. It was the most receiving yards in a season in PN-G’s storied history. His 154 career receptions are the most for any Indians player and his 90 grabs this year are second most in a season. He is also third in the record books for receiving yards in a game — 184 this year against Livingston — and receptions in a game, 12 this year against Ozen.

Fellow receiver Kaleb Sparks is now tied for fifth with Joey Price all-time at PN-G for receptions in a season with 51 catches. Price had his 51 grabs in 1999.

Running back Brant Halfin had a stellar season, with 1,298 yards on 252 carries with 15 touchdowns. The 15 TDs are ninth most in in a season in PN-G history.  His 2013 yards placed him 12th for most rushing yards in a season.

Quarterback Ky Walker passed for 2,135 yards, this year with 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

His 14 touchdowns is eighth most for a passer in a single season at PN-G and his season yards place him seventh in the record books. His 26 completions against Silsbee are second most for any PN-G quarterback in a single game. Brennan Doty had 32 in 2010 against Nederland.

“Whenever you can finish with the top offense in District 20-4A, it is a huge deal,” Faircloth said. “A big reason why we were able to put up the statistics we did on offense was in large part because of our defense. Those guys always came away with a turnover and were second in the district in points allowed. Our defensive coaches always had a great game plan put together and those guys did a great job executing it every Friday night.”

PN-G allowed 129 points through 20-4A play, an average of 18 points a game.

Faircloth will not vacation for too long. He will soon begin  to evaluate his group for next season and start focusing on how to make sure the Indians make it two playoff trips in a row.

“We are certainly going to miss this year’s group of seniors,” Faircloth said. “I hope next year to see the same type of team that always continues to fight. We will have quite a good group of guys back who will try to build off the amazing foundation this year’s seniors put down.”