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Sports

November 16, 2012

'Dogs, Dayton renew rivalry in bidistrict matchup

BEAUMONT — BEAUMONT — Being in the playoffs can mean that very good teams go home too early, and that sometimes the toughest matchup a team has before the regional finals will be in bidistrict.

 At least the Nederland Bulldogs will get to renew a great rivalry with Dayton in the Class 4A Division I bidistrict round today. Otherwise, a very good team that could play for a while will be going home disappointed from Lamar University’s Provost-Umphrey Stadium.

 This 18th meeting between Nederland and Dayton, in a series that stretches back to 1930, is arguably the best first-round matchup in all of 4A. The No. 5 ranked Bulldogs lead the series 11-6 and have won all three bidistrict meetings with the No. 15 Broncos. The teams first met in the playoffs in 1942 when the Bulldogs won 25-13, after beating Dayton 14-0 in the regular season that year.

 Nederland also won 31-0 in 1997 in bidistrict play and beat Dayton 49-14 in bidistrict play in 2004. The 35 point margin of victory in 2004 matched the biggest all-time in the series for Nederland, but Dayton owns both the most points scored and the biggest margin of victory, having beaten Nederland 66-0 in 1930 and 63-0 in 2007.

 “I gave our team a brief history of games we’ve had with them,” Neumann said. “We talked about the scrimmages the past two years and really what I was trying to get them to understand is that, even though Dayton got beat pretty good the other night, they’ve handled us physically very well in the past.

 “I can see a Dayton team playing us with redemption in their hearts, playing a team in us that they think they can beat. They’re not going to be intimidated to play the Nederland Bulldogs, no matter how well we’ve played this year.”

 The Broncos are 2-2 in games with the Bulldogs since 2001 and are on a two-game winning streak in the series. They’re also on a nice run of both making the playoffs and winning in the bidistrict round. This year marks the 15th straight that Dayton has made the playoffs and the Broncos have not lost in bidistrict play since 2005 when Beaumont Ozen tripped them up

 “There’s some added pressure from what’s been done by previous teams, but it also comes with expectations,” second-year Dayton head coach Jowell Hancock said. “Our goal has been to keep winning and to play in December. We finished the regular season on a sad note, but we’re looking forward to the playoffs.

 “Everyone is 0-0 now and everyone is good in the playoffs. You can‘t take a week off now, and we don’t intend to. Our staffs may know each other, but for the kids it’s not who you play, it’s how well you play on the day of the game.”

 This year’s teams have already played once, with Nederland ending up on the short side of a 31-14 scrimmage, with Dayton just before the season started. It’s the second straight year Nederland has played Dayton in a scrimmage, so the players have some familiarity with the system the Broncos will run.

 That comes in handy against a tough Dayton defense that has allowed just 11 points per game this season and led District 19-4A with just 204 yards allowed per game. One of the reasons that Dayton plays so tough is how it jumps around on defense. Nose tackle Charles Tousant moves all over the line before and after the ball is snapped to confuse the offensive line.

 “Their defense is set to confuse you,” Neumann said. “They have eight defenders in the secondary, and they run downhill as soon as the ball is snapped. We have to run the ball, but we’re also going to have to pass the ball offensively to keep them honest.

 “Their three down lineman are more like linebackers. We have to be real sound in keeping penetration out of our backfield. Their nose tackle is like a linebacker. He’ll play nose and defensive end on the same play. It’s like a shell game.”

 On offense, Dayton lost three-year starter Andres Herrera at quarterback, after he threw for 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. In his place, the Broncos turned to Markain Chambers, who was Herrera’s backup a season ago, but also played both wide receiver and cornerback for the Broncos.

 The transition hasn’t been easy for Chambers, but he’s capably led the Dayton offense to a 9-1 record and given the defense plenty of help in winning games.

 “We graduated a three-year starter, who brought a lot of experience to the table,” Hancock said. “(Chambers) wasn’t new, but it was a new position to him. He had to work at it. It was different being the starter and not just the backup, because it falls on you now. We had to fight through some adversity as a team, but we never talked about it. We just put our heads down and plowed forward.”

 For Dayton, the matchup against Nederland will mean keeping the Bulldogs from controlling the clock. Nederland plays to a ball-control style with a solid running game and a very stout defensive line.

 “They’ve gone back to the things they’ve done in the past,” Hancock said. “They run more tight ends and fullbacks in their sets. They’ve got a great defensive line with a lot of size right there. They’re going to try and control the ball and play good defense, much like ourselves.”

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