PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

September 16, 2013

Neumann staying positive heading into open week

Gabriel Pruett
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — Coach Larry Neumann has seen a lot of positives out of his Nederland Bulldogs through three non-districts contests.

Neumann’s main target has been the improvement the Bulldogs have made in several areas while turning in a 2-1 record.

Nederland started 2013 with a 56-35 loss at the hands of Crosby and has since posted two wins. This past week the Bulldogs defeated Angleton, 35-21.

The Bulldogs in Week Zero allowed 371 rushing yards compared to 205 this past Friday against Angleton. Neumann saw both the good and bad against the Wildcats.

“If you watch the videos you can see a trail of progession for our team,” Neumann said. “There have been many areas with steady improvements. Still, though, there are several areas where we need improvement. We are now going to take the week off and be confident we are starting the district race as an improving football team.

“I heard over the weekend one coach say how it is much easier to have a team improve off a win. I totally agree with that mindset. Players and coaches are more willing and ready to get on the practice field to improve when you win your last ballgame. You can learn from both losses and wins and everyone hits the field better after a W.”

One major talking point for Bulldogs fans will be the health of running back Kendrick Hopkins. Hopkins suffered a shin bone injury in the second half against Angleton, yet Neumann said he’s near 100-percent. Hopkins has rushed for 521 yards with five touchdowns through three games.

The injury report was not as good for sophomore running back/defensive back Austin Krautz. Neumann said Krautz could miss six to eight weeks with a fracture bone in his foot.

“We hope to get him back at the right time in district play,” Neumann said. “He does a lot of different things for our team, so we will be looking to some other guys to fill the roles we had Austin in.”

Quarterback Preston White was  33-for-59 passing with six touchdowns and three interceptions in non-district games. Receiver Colton Kilmer leads the Bulldogs with 13 receptions for 282 yards and four touchdowns as Nederland is averaging 403 yards of offense a game.

Nederland’s defense has seen both good and bad times already in 2013 and Neumann knows one area needs to see even more improvements over the next two weeks. The Bulldogs are giving up an average of 358 yards per game in 2013.

Nederland will be looking to make teams work for every yard, instead of giving up a quick six points on a big offensive touchdown. Angleton only needed four offensive plays last week to put 14 points on the board.

“We gave up two big plays to start the game against Angleton,” Neumann said. “One was due to mental error and one was a physical bust. When you have either type of bust on a play, you start looking for guys who can cover up that error and still make a play or tackle.

“We have to have that on this team. We have to make teams worker harder for touchdowns and not give up those quick scores. We want to make a play, stop their offense and force a punt or just a field goal. We got better against Angleton in that area as the game went on.”

District 20-4A is the perfect district in Neumann’s mind. He even said coaches around the state he talks too are jealous of what local teams get to enjoy each and every Friday in the district schedule. Nederland has not lost a District 20-4A contest since 2010.

“Every single Friday during district is a competitive game,” Neumann said. “A lot of that has to do with the geography of our district. Everyone in this district knows everyone else and knows your business. Our first opponent is Vidor in two weeks and I promise you Vidor is coming in expecting to win a road football game. In this district more than any other district in the state, it does not matter what you have already done each year.

“Nobody has respect for what you did  in the non-district because if you are not ready to play that night you will lose. Coaches envy the proximity of the teams in our district, aside from Livingston. You cannot go into a District 20-4A game and assume anything at all. You better be ready to play and I think with the team we have right now we will be ready to play.”