The Port Arthur News
NEDERLAND – Three generations have passed since Nederland won the state title in 1957. This year, three generations of Spells have the Bulldogs eyeing that goal again.
Nederland defensive coordinator Delbert Spell graduated from Nederland in 1969, joined the Nederland coaching ranks in 1973 at C.O. Wilson before moving up to the high school coaching staff in 1984. He’s been the only defensive coordinator Larry Neumann has had in 20 years at Nederland and has been fortunate to coach both his sons, Bryan and Brandon, along with his grandson Tyler.
“After every game, after we get through talking, I go find my grandson and give him a hug,” Delbert Spell said. “I’ve been blessed and fortunate to be at a place who would want to keep me this long. My hope is that (Tyler) gets the lessons of football. It’s about being unselfish in your role and doing the best for the team.”
Tyler, a senior, grew up as a ball boy on this team, along with fellow receiver Seth Barrow. He said the two don’t talk about having relatives on the coaching staff.
“It’s pretty great,” Tyler Spell said. “I grew up watching them as coaches. Playing for them has been surreal. (Seth and I) both understand and have the same mentality about this. When we were ball boys, we used to talk about how great it’d be to grow up and do all these great things. To grow up together and finally get to do it, it’s been a great experience.”
Tyler Spell has one catch for 5 yards this season and has made six tackles. As a member of the team’s receiving corps, his position coach is his uncle Bryan. In that capacity, Bryan has coached Tyler for the past four years.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Bryan Spell said. “The reason is because of him and his hard work. He’s a lot like his dad and my dad with his hard work. I’ve gotten to coach him the last four years, along with all these seniors. It’s been a pleasure. He’s been easy to coach and one of my favorites to coach.
“It was hard to separate sometimes whether he was performing well or if I just wanted him to perform well. To me, that was always the hardest thing. But, it’s been easy because of how hard he works. He’s made it a great situation.”
While Bryan may hold Tyler a little more accountable because of their relationship, Delbert doesn’t coach him directly, so their interactions can be a little less intense. For Delbert, that just highlights how different it is coaching his grandson.
“Unless you’re a grandpa, it’s hard to understand the feelings,” Delbert Spell said. “I had two sons play while I was coaching, but it’s completely different now. I don’t say too much to him (on the field). I don’t coach him. I let the other coaches get on him when he needs it. We try to treat him like every other player. I’m really proud of him.”
Bryan joined the Nederland coaching staff in 1999, but never thought he’d end up as a head coach when he first got into college. In fact, he went into Lamar as an engineering major. Bryan also said his dad never influenced him one way or another.
“I think deep down, I always knew I wanted to (coach),” Bryan Spell said. “I started as an engineering major. After about two years of sitting in class and doing the work, I knew what I wanted to do was coach. My dad never said anything either way. He and my mother wanted to do what would make me happy. He never pushed me either way.”
The filial situation with the Spells couldn’t have gotten more special than just after Nederland beat Pearland Dawson at Reliant Stadium last Saturday. After Carson Raines found Seth Barrow with the winning TD pass, Tyler said he didn’t know who to celebrate with first.
“I didn’t know who to go to first,” Tyler Spell said. “I was looking around. I went and hugged my dad, then went and gave my uncle and granddad a high five. My mind was going in a million different directions. Celebrating with the team and my family was great.”
NOTES: The Nederland offensive line will be shuffling again this week. Starting right guard Jacob Brinkley will miss Saturday’s game against Georgetown and will be replaced in the lineup by Logan Albritton, who is returning from a knee injury he suffered during practice before the Dayton game. Chris Henry will start at right tackle for Dannis Latiolais, who is likely done for the year. … Running back Kendrick Hopkins is still dealing with an AC joint separation in his shoulder that he’s had for much of the season. Hopkins aggravated the injury against Pearland Dawson and could have returned to the game, but the coaching staff was worried about ball security and how well he could hold onto the football. He’s on pace to start this week against Georgetown and should see his normal workload. … Nederland lineman Brock Pryor has been invited to play in the National Underclassman All American Bowl on Dec. 22 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.