NEDERLAND — Give Colton Kimler credit. He sure has a sense for the moment.
Time after time this season, the junior safety/wide receiver has come up with big plays. The 6-foot-1, 190 pounder led District 20-4A with six interceptions this season and came up with two huge TD catches last week against Dayton.
Kimler admits he isn’t the fastest player on the field, but his ability to go up and get passes with body control and his jumping ability means he can outfight smaller players down the field.
“He’s different from the other guys,” Nederland head coach Larry Neumann said. “We’ve always known him to be an athlete. We’ll throw a jump ball to Colton because he’s that kind of kid. It’s uncanny how he can get in position to make plays. The ball was thrown on time on both of his scores the other day, but Colton made the separation move at the end to get his hands on the ball.
“How do you coach that? I’d like to say we’re out here doing that drill 50 times a day, but athletes are going to make those kinds of play. He’s a big, strong kid. I still get the impression he doesn’t know how good he can be. I think he’s still growing into himself mentally. He’s a real down to earth guy, but he’s confident in his ability. He thinks he can go get it and most of the time, he does.”
Of course, Kimler’s experience with the basketball team helps a little with that ability to go up and get passes.
“The vertical leap, going to get the ball over smaller defenders really helps.” Kimler said.
Still, Kimler has been the third-best option in Nederland’s passing attack behind Michael Shaw and Seth Barrow. The junior has 14 catches for 263 yards and three TDs. He is one of three Nederland receivers with 10 or more catches and 100 or more receiving yards.
Last season, it looked like Kimler would have his impact on offense, after he caught 26 passes for 347 yards and three TDs. But, his improvement on defense has been the thing that has impressed his coaches the most.
“He has really developed into a good tackler,” Neumann said. “When he first started playing defense, he was a poor, poor tackler. In fact, we were unsure whether he could play on defense because he was such a poor tackler. He has really developed into being a good tackler. That’s carried over on offense, as he’s a really good blocker too.”
This season, Kimler has 41 tackles with two forced fumbles, six interceptions, one pass breakup and one defensive touchdown. He was one of five Nederland defenders to score touchdowns this season, as the Bulldogs combined for eight defensive scores in total.
To Kimler, his success in catching all those interceptions has been due to his excellent defensive line.
“The d-line getting pressure on the quarterback has been the biggest part,” Kimler said. “They make the quarterback make bad throws. I’m just there to make the play.”
Though he’s a junior on a senior-laden defense, Kimler said he’s never felt different or intimidated by playing beside the Koby Couron’s or Jordan Wood’s who have been varsity starters for three seasons now.
“They’ve been like big brothers to me,” Kimler said. “They help me out and lead me in the right direction. They’ve been good role models for me. I’ve become so close to the seniors on the team, I feel like I’m one of them. It’s kind of disappointing to think that they’ll be gone next year and I’ll still be here playing.”
If he’s had a problem this season, it may be in just playing so much on both sides of the ball. His play count is definitely something his coaches are aware of during the game.
“We have to manage his time,” Neumann said. “After that long touchdown, we had to pull him off defense because he was winded. He gets winded. We have to manage that.”
For Kimler, playing both ways is about both fighting through the fatigue and staying mentally strong.
“You have to be mentally tough,” Kimler said. “You’re tired. You want to worry about catching your breath, but you have to worry about what the play is, what you have to do and how you have to adjust. It’s tough.
“The mental approach is different on defense. You have to be violent. On offense, it’s more about thinking about the plays and running routes. When you’re playing defense, you can look at the receiver you’re covering and guess where he might cut, because you’re also a receiver.”
BULLDOG BITES: That defensive line Kimler credited for his interceptions has accounted for 38 percent of the Bulldog defense’s total tackles, 29 of the team’s 33 sacks and 60 of the 81 tackles for a loss. Senior defensive end Koby Couron leads the way with 63 tackles, 27 for a loss, and 13 sacks with one fumble caused and three passes broken up. Both juniors De Shawn Washington and Caleb Malveaux have 10 or more tackles for a loss while senior Brock Pryor is third on the team in tackles with 68 and is tied for the lead in forced fumbles with two. … Pflugerville Connally has gone 8-3 this season and finished third in District 17-4A. All four playoff teams from 17-4A are still alive, as Division I entry Georgetown beat Magnolia West 44-18 while Division II’s Manor beat Huntsville 47-21 and Elgin beat Brenham 44-30…. Connally lost its first game of the season 35-7 to Leander before ripping off seven straight victories. After beating Del Valle 24-21, the Cougars won the next six by a combined 297 to 32. That included shutouts of Georgetown East View, Bastrop and Cedar Creek, along with a 58-24 victory over the Hutto Hippos and a 46-6 win over playoff-bound Elgin. Connally lost its final two district games to fall into third place, losing 34-0 to Georgetown and 20-17 to Manor. … Connally bounced back to beat Montgomery 33-8 in bidistrict play, winning for just the second time in the past seven years in the playoffs. Since making the regional finals in 2005 and the state semifinals in 2004, the Cougars were 1-4 in the playoffs before beating Montgomery this year. The only other bidistrict win for Connally since 2005 was in 2010, when the Cougars beat Lancaster 27-24.
NEDERLAND — Give Colton Kimler credit. He sure has a sense for the moment.
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BEAUMONT — It may be just the second year of the program’s revival, but the Lamar softball team has already established a tradition: Winning the home opener on a walk-off home run.
Casey Cromwell’s three-run blast in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Lady Cardinals a 6-4 win over Southeastern Louisiana at Ford Park in the first home game of 2014 for Lamar and the Southland Conference opener for both squads.
Lamar, which won its first game last year over UTSA on a walk-off home run by Ashley McDowell, cruised to an 8-1 win over Southeastern Louisiana in Saturday’s nightcap.
“This is why I love playing at home,” Lamar coach Holly Bruder said. “The fans really get us pumped up, and we respond.”
Cromwell hit two home runs in the opener for Lamar (5-9 overall, 2-0 Southland). Beverly Corry also homered for Lamar. Shannon Millman (3-5) was the winning pitcher for the Lady Cardinals in both games, working 1 1-3 innings of scoreless relief in the first game before firing a three-hit gem in the nightcap.
“We got tremendous pitching for both Shannon and Tina (Schulz) today,” Bruder said. “We also got some great defense, and that really helped us.”
Candyce Carter and Jenna Holland homered for Lamar in the second game. Carter had three RBIs in the game, while Holland and Julianne Viator added two RBIs apiece.
Carter closed out the game in spectacular fashion, making a diving grab in center field to turn what looked to be a sure double off the bat of Brittney Tschoepe into the final out of the game.
The two teams wrap up their three-game series with a single contest at 1 p.m. Sunday at Ford Park. All senior citizens 55 and older receive free admission.
“It’s always tough to sweep a team,” Bruder said. “We know Sunday’s game will be tough.”
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