, Port Arthur, Texas

December 24, 2012

Nederland, WO-S, PA Memorial dominate Super Team


Tom Halliburton
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — It’s usually an over-simplification to conclude the best players play for the best teams and the best teams own all the best players.

Then there’s the star-studded 41st annual Port Arthur News Super Team which endorses that idea almost totally.

If one eliminates Port Arthur Memorial, Nederland and West Orange-Stark, this Super squad is not very, very Super at all.

Two state quarter-final teams and one talented 5A playoff club comprised exactly 80 percent — or 28 of this year’s 35 coach and/or player honorees.

It’s easier just to report that Beaumont Ozen and Port Neches-Groves placed two players apiece while Bridge City, Beaumont West Brook and Little Cypress-Mauriceville each added one.

All five of this year’s special honorees hailed from the terrific trio of NED-WOS-PA. That would be one MVP, one offensive and one defensive player of the year and a pair of graybeards sharing the coach of the year award. The three schools thoroughly consumed all 13 of the defensive unit selections. They hogged 10 of the 14 offensive unit positions.

It really has been a team thing in 2012. It starts with the two schools to travel deepest into the post-season, Nederland in 4A Division 1 and WO-S in 3A Division 2.

Cornel Thompson of the Mustangs and Larry Neumann of the Bulldogs automatically shared coach of the year honors because each team advanced to the quarter-finals in their respective brackets.

Their quarterbacks were awarded spots on the offensive unit. The total impact of Ricky Fisk’s contribution to Port Arthur Memorial’s success was hard to overlook because the amount which the Titans coaches would place on his shoulders and legs.

Fisk became the second Titans quarterback in as many years to earn Super Team MVP, wearing the same number and picking up where Terrence Singleton left off. Fisk did it all, just like Terrence. He completed 138 or 221 passes for 2,025 yards and 20 scoring passes. He rushed for 12 scores and 897 yards.

Give Fisk plenty of credit but West Orange-Stark and Nederland proved this was a tremendous year for defense, too. As many as six or seven defenders from those quarter-finalists could have been selected defensive player of the year. The honor came down to pure tackle numbers and none of them put together more in this area than WO-S senior inside backer Joe Lynch with 118 stops, 13 tackles for losses and six sacks.

All sorts of possibilities were considered for offensive player of the year, too. The unavoidable reality is this. With 1,351 rushing yards from junior tailback Kendrick Hopkins, the Bulldogs usually had enough of a dependable ground game when they needed it.

Kendrick’s relentless skill as a grind-it-out runner far surpassed any running threat from WO-S or Memorial in terms of offering that complement to the passing attack. Seth Barrow, Carson Raines, Michael Shaw, and the Doggies aerial show was mighty good too, but they were all mighty glad to have Hopkins on their side.

If all those decisions were not tough enough, the hardest call of them all may have been at center. Toan Nguyen earned second-team 21-5A all-league honors, starting 26 straight games at Memorial. His quarterbacks for two seasons have been in the shotgun. Nguyen has had to be excellent at executing the snap and directing the offensive line calls. He has been and the Titans offense has been the beneficiary.

Junior Cole Brown captured first-team 20-4A all-league honors and Nederland’s offensive efficiency required very little validation. Brown amounted to an automatic answer whenever The News sportswriters ever inquired about the identity of the Bulldogs best all-around offensive lineman.

It was hard to separate stars on defense, too. Nederland’s defensive front simply amounted to the area’s best. WO-S had the linebacker portion of the team well-covered.

As for blue-chip recruits, there were not that many but the standout teams spoke for themselves.