PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

August 19, 2013

Checking in on local football teams via the NBA Draft

David Coleman
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Maybe I’m alone in this, but I can’t get enough of the major league drafts. Doesn’t matter if it’s football, baseball or basketball, I watch them all. Most people think watching a draft is like watching grass grow or paint dry.

But, so many things out of those drafts are reusable. Take the NBA Draft. Each year, ESPN shows the players after they’re drafted, complete with a little scouting card on them. They have height, weight, school and then scouting notes, like what the player’s strengths are and what they need to improve.

Why can’t we take that and repurpose it for the start of the high school football season? Before games begin, we’re going to talk about teams, right? So, why can’t we look at each team the News covers as if they were players in the NBA draft?

Let’s try this out.

Port Arthur Memorial

Height (Record): 8-3

Weight (Enrollment): 2,270

NBA Player Comp: James Harden – Great offense, defensive questions

Strengths: Receivers, RB depth, Pass rush

Notes: Last season, Memorial’s offense featured a deep set of receivers who criss-crossed the field catching bubble screens and breaking them for long gains. Two of those players are back, supported by some new blood. Add in a dynamic backfield with players like Kameron Martin and Corey Dauphine and the Memorial offense should hum. Oh, and don’t forget the Matthews twins coming off the edge in that new 3-4 look. That could be scary for other 21-5A quarterbacks.

Needs to improve: Run defense

Notes: If Memorial had one glaring weakness last year, it was its run defense. Team after team gashed the interior of the Titan defense for big gains, beginning with Deer Park’s Noah Cano and ending when Manvel, a primarily passing team, ran for 177 yards to beat Memorial in bidistrict play. Did I mention Memorial featured two imposing defensive tackles last season, one of whom will be playing for Oklahoma this fall? Memorial has to get better here if it wants to reach its playoff ceiling.

Port Neches-Groves

Height: 2-8

Weight: 1,413

NBA Player Comp: Andrew Wiggins – Great potential but unproven

Strengths: Youth, Secondary

Notes: Once again, the Indians will trot out a team that is very young. Most of the offense will be non-seniors, along with the defense. Multiple sophomores will be involved and there may even be a freshman or two who gets playing time. That youth also brings plenty of talent, which should help PN-G improve on its results from last year. The secondary brings back a number of players, too, who should help stabilize the back end of the defense.

Needs to improve: Health

Notes: Last season, PN-G was decimated by injuries. Player after player after player was felled by different ailments. Sometimes, players were hurt and kept playing, partly because they were tough and partly because the Indians didn’t have anyone behind them on the depth chart. PN-G was pretty unlucky this area last year, but few teams are that unlucky in back-to-back years. Hopefully, that sentence didn’t jinx the Indians too badly.

Nederland

Height: 12-2

Weight: 1,512

NBA Player Comp: Dwight Howard – Defensive force, grind-it-out offense

Strengths: Defensive line, RB, Offensive line

Notes: De Shawn Washington and Caleb Malveaux make sure the d-line will be a strength for at least one more year. Kendrick Hopkins will provide the thump and an experienced offensive line will open plenty of holes. Don’t overlook a ton of playoff experience either. There are enough players back from last year’s team that remember the Pearland Dawson victory to keep Nederland hungry for more.

Needs to improve: Receiver depth

Notes: The biggest question mark for Nederland this season is on the receiver position. Colton Kimler is back as a two-way talent at receiver and safety, but the rest of the receivers will be inexperienced. That doesn’t give presumed starting quarterback Preston White much help early on. The new starters should see plenty of room on the edges, as defenses will be packing inside to stop Hopkins.

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