SHENANDOAH — From familiarity to obscurity, Nederland’s journey through the Class 4A Division I playoffs is a study in opposites the past two weeks.
Last week, the Bulldogs played a rival with a history that dated back 80 years. This week, Nederland’s area round opponent Pflugerville Connally is a team that has only been for 16 years and will be facing the Bulldogs for the first time.
One thing Connally has in common with Dayton is a strong defense.
“They fly to the ball defensively,” Neumann said. “They have athletes on both sides of the ball. No. 8 (Michael Egwuagu) is a really good player. No. 6 (Darrell Songy) is one of the best linebackers we’ve seen. They have two really good corners. They’re defensive line are hard chargers. They’re not so much like the Dayton nose tackle that stands up and runs around. They’re guys getting up field and trying to put pressure on you and then cover you up in the secondary. They’re very active on defense. They do some stunting too, so we have to be smart and try to pick it up.”
This season, Connally posted three shutouts and allowed 13.6 points per game through a 33-8 bidistrict victory over Montgomery. After falling 35-7 to Leander, the Cougars gave up an average of 7.5 points per game over the course of a seven game winning streak.
While standout linebackers like Egwuagu, who’s committed to Texas-San Antonio, and Songy, who’s committed to Texas State, give the Cougars a stout run defense, the secondary is just as strong. With a defensive line getting pressure up front, those defensive backs are even more effective in coverage.
That’s why one of the key matchups this week could be the rangy Colton Kimler, who scored two long touchdowns against Dayton, and how he will play against the Cougar defenders.