, Port Arthur, Texas


November 9, 2013

Area playoff puzzle difficult to piece together

PORT ARTHUR — It was never easy to quickly find a site for a playoff football game.

    Teams always tried to meet in the middle if they could and, if that didn’t work, a coin flip sometimes decided what team had the luxury of playing closer to home. There have also been times one team hosted a playoff game due to a coin flip.

    This was all hard enough when two teams made it to the playoffs. Then, the UIL decided to allow three teams into the postseason and now four teams advance statewide.

    In the meantime, coaches are still concentrating on their first job which is to play out the regular season. Yet in this social media driven world, fans and even the media want to know where a team is headed before the final Friday comes to a close.

    “Finding a stadium is tough,” PN-G Coach Brandon Faircloth said. “The top goal is to play on a Friday night to keep the players on the same schedule they have been on all year. There are not many stadiums around to choose from, especially when you take into consideration the PN-G fan base. It is very difficult. It is not as easy as I would like it to be.

    “Then, if the coaches don’t agree, there is a coin flip. Then, like our situation Friday, we were not even sure who we would be playing. You are making calls at 11 p.m. trying to finalize deals. It is extremely difficult.”

    First-year Orangefield Coach Josh Smalley found himself backed into in a very stressful-corner over the last several weeks. The Bobcats needed wins over Buna and Bridge City in the final two games to reach the postseason. This left Smalley with little time to pick up a phone and call around looking for an open venue.

    “We weren’t even sure we were in until last night,” Smalley said. “My focus was on Buna and Bridge City. You can’t wait too long to make arrangements because if you do there are no open stadiums.”

    Smalley said he made tentative plans two weeks ago with a couple of District 22-3A coaches in the event his Bobcats reached the playoffs.

    “We were fortunate to have our location nailed down,” Smalley said. “I am a rookie at this. Honestly, my focus was on winning our final two football games. There was not time to make a bunch of phone calls, find a location, call the opposing coach back to see if they agreed and then call the location back.

    “It is a challenge. First round stadiums are hard to come by with all these teams getting into the playoffs. There is no doubt about that.”

There are four Thursday contests and two Saturday games this year just between the 5A-3A teams. Four games will be played at Beaumont ISD’s Thomas Center, with two being played at Barbers Hill High School.

    Class 1A and below still only take three teams to the playoffs.

    Even with all the chaos, Southeast Texas coaches got the job done before midday Saturday.

    District 20-3A had the craziest scenario play out Friday night. The fourth place team from the district really proves the UIL might need to reconsider how many teams advance past the regular season.

    Dilboll entered Friday’s game against Huntington with a 0-9 record. Huntington was 1-7 and both teams had yet to get a win in the five-team district race.

    So sporting its 0-3 20-3A record, Diboll defeated Huntington 41-6 Friday and won its first game of the season. The win clinched a playoff spot for the now 1-9, 1-3 Lumberjacks.

    Fairfield who is 9-1 awaits Diboll in the first round.

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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 You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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    The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.

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From the Fieldhouse blog