PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

October 17, 2013

Gabe Pruett column: Covering Mid-County Madness special to a reporter

PORT ARTHUR —   From fifth grade until graduation, my blood was purple. Yes Nederland fans, the guy who has covered three of your games this year is a bleeping PN-G Indian.

 Calm down Bulldogs, because I always say soon after my graduation in 1998, things started to move me farther away from my alma mater and I was kicked off The Reservation.

 While working for almost a decade at The Orange Leader, I stopped wearing purple. There is probably only one purple shirt in my closet. That is against Rule No. 2 in the PN-G Code Book if I remember right. (The first rule is to know the words to Cherokee and hum it when around Nederland folks.)

 I was away from the Nederland-PN-G game for so long I think I started to forget how big it is. One never fully forgets Mid County Madness but its magnitude was diminishing in my head.

 Since 1998, yours truly has only been to one half of a PN-G/Nederland game and that came last year.

 What a wake up call this week has been.

 We had some fun games to cover in Orange County. Any West Orange-Stark game fell into that category, and the Bayou Bowl between Orangefield and Bridge City is a great rivalry between two fantastic communities.

 Nothing, however, compares to Mid County Madness. It has been great listening to the two coaches talk about this game and seeing a different look in both Brandon Faircloth and Larry Neumann’s eyes.

 The piece printed on Thursday in The Port Arthur News detailing the 1999 and 2000 games which pitted two friends against each other was an honor to write. Listening to PN-G’s Joey Price and Nederland’s Kevin Barbay talk about their experiences gave me goose bumps.

 When kickoff comes tonight, I will have authored six stories on Mid-County Madness this week. It is hard to imagine any other high school rivalry game in the entire nation warrants that much attention from a hometown newspaper.

 After talking to so many people about Mid County Madness, I can firmly say the work was well worth it and the two schools deserved the attention.

 The hardest part of the entire situation of covering Mid County Madness came on Monday when The News sports department turned in our weekly picks for the I Beat Bob West contest.

 Once again, I gave the Indians a reason to move me farther down the totem pole by selecting Nederland to win the game. To plead my case, it was very hard to pick against a Bulldogs team that has won 20 straight games in District 20-4A. That alone made my decision.

 Sports writers go into these types of games with an unbiased approach and leave with memories of their own from the contest they watched.

 Everyone involved in tonight’s Mid County Madness should take a moment at some point and soak in the atmosphere.

 This might be my first PN-G-Nederland game to cover but this is my 12th year covering sports. I have covered perahps 150 football games by the age of 33. I am smart enough to know tonight’s game could very well be the most special game I write about, no matter the outcome.

 gpruett@panews.com

 @PaNewsGabe

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