PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

April 29, 2013

SPRING FOOTBALL: Port Arthur Memorial gets new defensive coordinator

PORT ARTHUR — Spring football opens Monday, as Port Arthur Memorial begins its drills as the only team in Mid and South County participating in spring practices.

There are a number of great storylines surrounding head coach Kenny Harrison’s team this spring. Here are five of the most compelling ones:

1) A new Titans defensive chief

Memorial made some coaching changes in the offseason. The biggest of those is adding a new defensive coordinator. Cody Haug comes to the Titans from Conroe Oak Ridge and brings with him a new defensive scheme.

The Titans will be transitioning into a 3-4 scheme under Haug, who brings a lot of energy to the coaching staff, according to Harrison. Haug replaces Nelson Barnes, who remains on staff as defensive line coach. In addition to being the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Oak Ridge, Haug also has experience at Klein and Katy Mayde Creek.

“We were looking for a guy with experience in a 3-4,” Harrison said. “(Haug) just brings another quality coach to that side of the ball. We can’t have enough quality coaches on that side of the ball. He’s a high energy coach and that stood out to me when talking to him.”

The Titans also had one departure on the defensive side, as David Hill is no longer on the varsity staff. Memorial is still looking to fill his spot with an outside linebackers coach and hopes to have that hired soon.

2) A Nederland transfer

Another new face showed up on defense that’s familiar to area football fans. Sophomore defensive end Jaron Johnson transferred from Nederland to Memorial when his parents moved just down the street from the high school in the offseason.

Johnson will be a big part of the Titans’ new scheme, as he can play a five-technique defensive tackle position with enough strength and quickness to still rush the passer. His addition also allows the Titans to bump last year’s starting defensive ends, twins Meldric and Melbroderick Matthews to outside linebacker.

“He’s a very hard-working kid,” Harrison said. “You can tell he came from a quality program. He’s got a high upside. He’s done a tremendous job for us so far. He’s embraced everything we’ve done here. He’s gotten a lot stronger. We’re looking for big things from him.”

3) Who replaces Fisk?

The biggest question on offense this spring will be who starts at quarterback. Three main candidates will compete for the top job, including Taylor Labrie, Torian Lott and C.J. Levine. Harrison hopes to decide upon a starter by the end of this spring.

Lott and Labrie both served as outgoing starter Ricky Fisk’s backups last season at various times, and Lott also saw some time as the starter for the JV team in the past two seasons.

It’s not an all or nothing proposition for any of the players in the competition, though. All three should see starting time at another position if they don’t nab the top QB spot. Lott is currently working with the first-team cornerbacks while Levine started at safety last season and should be back there again. Labrie, meanwhile, could slide out to receiver.

If there’s a slight favorite heading into the spring, it’s probably Labrie. The soon-to-be senior has a big arm and is also athletic enough to run the Titans’ spread offense.

4) Offensive line depth vital

Two offensive starters will be watching spring practice from the sideline. Starting left tackle Vernon Samuels and starting left guard Dekovin Antoine both had minor knee procedures that will keep them out this spring.

However, the Titans have a ton of depth on their offensive line right now. Harrison said Memorial could be 10 deep at that spot this year, which will be important, as the Titans may lost as many as three starters off last year’s line.

Two-year starting center Toan Nguyen and starting right tackle Brendan Vaughn both were lost to graduation. Right guard Selah Fontenot was a junior last season, but should be flipping back to defense to man the other defensive end spot opposite Johnson.

5) Running backs return

Kameron Martin became the first freshman to start at running back for Memorial in school history last season, but he’s not the only back who could make an impact next season.

Corey Dauphine, a junior, will be back from a leg injury he suffered in non-district play and competing with Martin and senior Ransom Howard for carries. Martin was the team’s third-leading rusher last season with 308 yards and four touchdowns. Howard had four carries for 25 yards while Dauphine had two carries for 13 yards.

This will be Martin’s first chance to go through spring drills as the coaching staff evaluates how his development is progressing.

“We’ll be looking at his endurance and if he can carry the load,” Harrison said. “Dauphine and  Ransom Howard will also be in the mix. We want to see how his body holds up with the amount of carries this spring.”

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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 cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)

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From the Fieldhouse blog