PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

August 15, 2013

PN-G's Faircloth focusing on line play

PORT NECHES —  On Friday, the Port Neches-Groves football team will try to put the 2012 campaign behind it by turning the page. The Indians will officially kick of their 2013 schedule by scrimmaging Hamshire-Fannett at The Reservation.

The game is set for 7 p.m. with the freshman and JV teams scrimmaging at 5 p.m. The scrimmage may not be totally like a game, but the teams should get some work in quarters to simulate what will happen once Week Zero rolls around.

Still, there will be plenty for the coaching staff to focus on tonight. Here are just a few things to watch for as the Indians begin play.

1) Watching the guys up front

While the coaching staff will no doubt be evaluating the entire team for how well they execute the game plan, and how they play on Friday, one area in particular may get extra focus.

That’s the boys up front, on both the offensive and defensive lines, as PN-G strives to win the line of scrimmage this year.

“That’s how you win games,” PN-G head coach Brandon Faircloth said. “We’ve been pretty successful at it for three years. Last year, we weren’t very good at controlling it. We’ve got to control the line of scrimmage. Our focus will be on the offensive and defensive lines.”

Last season, PN-G failed to have a 1,000 yard rusher for the first time under Faircloth. The defense, too, was gouged too often by running teams. With some experience returning on offense, PN-G needs to get better up front to improve as a team.

“Every skill position is back,” Faircloth said. “The secondary, most of those guys played last year, so we have to look at the line of scrimmage, regardless of the play outcome. We have to see who can get out there and dominate the line of scrimmage.”

2) Tackling important

If fans want to watch the new and improved defense for signs it will be better than 2012, look no further than the tackling. Faircloth said that the most important thing the defense will get out of this scrimmage with the Longhorns is focusing on tackling someone not wearing purple and white.

“Defensively, we have played a couple of full-contact scrimmages,” Faircloth said. “But, when you’re playing yourself, it’s hard to tell. Tackling is a big focus. It’s hard to simulate tackling in practice. Linebackers and the secondary, how they come up and tackle will be a good thing. We need live action on tackling. We can’t get enough of it.”

3) How ready the team is

This point is a little more nebulous, because it’s not one area to watch.

It’s the whole team.

Right now, PN-G is going through a first under Faircloth. They’re practicing for the first time in two-a-days, which changes the readiness schedule for the season a bit. How has that paid off for the Indians so far?

“The extra week sure is nice,” Faircloth said. “It’s nice to be sitting here and be in pads. From where we are, it’s only the 13th, where it’s been, ‘It’s the 13th!’ It’s just a little different viewpoint. The extra week was great. We’re already in pads. We scrimmaged today, we scrimmaged Saturday.”

If the Indians can carry that over to the scrimmage Friday, then they should look further along than they did last season by this point. Maybe that earlier preparation in the summer will lead to better results on Friday night.

“It’s a little more at ease to look at the date and see you’ve already had 14 practices,”  Faircloth said. “We’ve improved and we have to continue to do that, have our seniors be leaders. Hamshire-Fannett will be a good test for us. I don’t know that anyone feels good about how they look after a week and a half of practice. I know we don’t. We have a long way to go.”

David Coleman is a sportswriter for the Port Arthur News. He can be emailed at dcoleman@panews.com and found on Twitter at @MDavidColeman.

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