, Port Arthur, Texas

November 29, 2012

'Dogs seek playoff payback against Dawson

David Coleman
The Port Arthur News

HOUSTON — HOUSTON – Two situations are happening this week for the Nederland

Bulldogs that haven’t cropped up in a while. First, they’re facing a

team that beat them last year in the playoffs, trying to get a little

revenge for the loss.

The other is that the ‘Dogs find themselves underdogs for the first

time in quite a while. Pearland Dawson finished the regular season as

the top-ranked team in Class 4A, four spots ahead of No. 5 Nederland.

Was the team aware of the possibility of a rematch against Dawson?

Most definitely.

“You have to win a lot of games to get where we are right now,”

Nederland head coach Larry Neumann said. “Getting here was what we

were looking to do this year. We have a tremendous challenge Friday.

Pearland Dawson cares not if we wanted to be here. We clearly know who

we are playing. We’re excited about the opportunity. I can envision a

hard-fought, four quarter ball game. I’d be surprised if it goes any

other way.”

Last year, in the regional round of the playoffs, Dawson beat

Nederland 33-25 at Galena Park ISD Stadium. The Bulldogs contained

most of Dawson’s biggest threats and even broke some big plays their

own. On the first play of the game, now-senior Michael Shaw scored on

a 40-yard run.

However, Dawson proved just how explosive its offense could be in the

third quarter. The Eagles took the opening kickoff to score before

forcing a three-and-out on Nederland’s next possession. Receiver Tony

Upchurch caught a pass and scored from 38 yards out on the first play

of Dawson’s ensuing possession.

After another quick stop by Dawson, the Eagles scored their 19th

points of the quarter with a 9-yard TD run by James White.

“You’re never quite sure how a game might turn out, schematically,”

Neumann said. “It can backfire on you. It did not that night. We left

that game with honor and pride and disappointment for not

accomplishing what we went there to do. What we did take from it is

that the guys that were there are resolved that we can produce

something like that again.”

Though Dawson graduated 43 seniors from last year’s squad, the Eagles

do have White back. The Texas A&M commit has become a focal point in

Dawson’s spread attack, rushing for 2,094 yards and 28 TDs this

season. Last week against Stratford, White had 40 carries for 222 yard

and four TDs to lead the Eagles into this rematch.

Dawson graduated its QB Garry Kimble from last year’s squad. Josh

Sharp won a competition heading into the season and has locked down

the spot for himself. Sharp has completed 62 percent of his passes,

throwing for 1,386 yards and 21 TDs with four interceptions. Sharp has

also rushed for 498 yards and eight TDs.

“They’re as solid as any football team should be, on both sides of the

ball,” Neumann said. “(Tony) Upchurch, the running back and the

quarterback make that offense go. Their offensive line is huge and

blocks extremely well. The mindset for us is no different than it was

last year. We are going to have to play extremely spirited and be

technically sound.”

Part of Nederland’s game plan heading into Friday’s rematch is to try

and shut down Dawson’s running attack on first and second downs. If

they can force the Eagles into third-and-long situations early, they

might be able to take advantage of Sharp and the passing game that

only attempted 10 passes per game this year.

Nederland’s offense will be trying to avoid that same thing, as

Dawson’s defense is swarming in the secondary. Neumann compared them

to West Orange-Stark, which is high praise indeed.

“They remind me of West Orange in how they run to the football,”

Neumann said. “Their second level defenders swarm to the football. We

have to stay out of third and long. It’d be very difficult if we’re

looking at long yardage on possession downs. They fly to the football.

Their front four is very strong. Their nose tackles look like twins.

They’re huge guys. The yards will come if they come. We have to be

precise and just take care of the football.”

Two things Nederland will need to improve over its victory against

Pflugerville Connally are passing efficiency and blocking up front.

Nederland quarterback Carson Raines had one of his least effective

games this season against Connally.

Raines completed just five passes on 18 attempts for a completion

percentage of 27.7 percent. Before the Connally game, Raines had

completed 53 percent of his passes on 183 attempts. Most of his

incompletions against Connally were vertical routes where he put the

ball in a spot where only his receiver could get it. The problem was

Raines only hit one all night, a 64-yard TD to Seth Barrow.

The Nederland offensive line also struggled at first against Connally,

allowing inside penetration a few times and failing to open up the

kinds of holes that they had against other teams. Still, the Nederland

offense showed a sense of timing, breaking big plays on sprint draws

to take advantage of Connally’s over-aggressiveness.

The winner of this game will play the winner of  Saturday’s 2 p.m. game at Gupton Stadium in Cedar park between Angleton and Georgetown. Angleton is responsible for Nederland’s only loss this season.