, Port Arthur, Texas


January 23, 2014

Coaches react to Vidor’s trip to Florida

PORT ARTHUR — News broke last  weekend that the Vidor Pirates were taking a very nice road trip to start the 2014 high school football season. Vidor heads to beautiful Pensacola, Fla., to take on the Escambia Gators on Aug. 30. The following year the Gators come to Vidor.

Area coaches, meanwhile, had varying thoughts on taking a team to Florida.

Nederland Coach Larry Neumann said the beaches of Pensacola are some of the best shores in the world. The area is just not a place Nederland football fans should get ready to go watch the Bulldogs.

“I’d rather play closer to home,” Neumann said. “We have a budget set for all the travel and I know Vidor is doing some fundraisers to raise the money but that is not something I would be interested in. I think playing closer to home, in my mind, is better for the kids and our fans.”

Port Neches-Groves Coach Brandon Faircloth said the first thing he would try to make sure happened when talking to a Florida team would be to try and get them to visit The Reservation.

“I’d much rather them come here than us go over there,” Faircloth said. “I’d consider everything when it comes to scheduling games. We would have to evaluate the team, what is best for our fans and the money it would take to get it done. It really would be no different than when we played in the Alamodome. The hardest part is the next week. The travel can take a toll.”

Port Arthur Memorial Coach Kenny Harrison sees it both ways. He knows, just like Neumann and Faircloth, the struggles teams in this area can have when scheduling non-district games.

“The pro is kids get exposure to another set of fans and scouts and it would be nice to travel to a place like Florida,” Harrison added. “The con is you lose out on a sub-varsity game. It could really put a strain in finding a game for your freshman and JV teams.

“For me personally, I am not too sure about if I would schedule something like that. The first thing that sticks out to me are those sub-varsity games. That could really lead to a big mess for those guys.”

Vidor head coach Jeff Mathews was contacted to possibly play the game last November and everything looks to be a go as the Pirates await school board approval.

“When I got that call in November, it sounded appealing and here we are,” said Mathews. “I had several talks with their coach, Willie Spears, and it all worked out.”

Escambia’s most famous former player is Emmitt Smith. Smith set national rushing records at Escambia before becoming an All-American at The University of Florida. He was then drafted in the first round Dallas Cowboys for whom he won three Super Bowl rings, earned a spot in the Hall of Fame and became the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.

Neumann, Faircloth and Harrison are getting ready for the UIL realignment set for Monday, Feb. 3. That is when new districts will be announced and teams around the state will be looking to fill in schedules. Thus far, it’s been a challenge.

Neumann said his Bulldogs have yet to confirm any games for the 2014 season. Faircloth and the Indians are scheduled to play West Orange-Stark and Goose Creek Memorial and will be looking for at least one more game after realignment. Harrison has Houston Lamar on the schedule for Week 3 and will likely also have Beaumont Ozen and Beaumont Central scheduled for the Titans, although those two teams are not confirmed.

Neumann did have one last idea to curb the problem facing Texas high school coaches.

“It would be great if Texas and Louisiana were on the same realignment schedule,” Neumann said. “We aren’t on the same schedule but there has been talk about this in the past. I would be in full approval of working towards getting us to that point to help relieve some of the pressure of finding games.”

Twitter: @PaNewsGabe


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  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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  • Babe Ruth.jpg Mid County Babe Ruth set to host Southwest Regional

    The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.

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  • West golf notepad: Eleven-year-old Henry scores ace in YMBL tourney

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From the Fieldhouse blog