Neumann flirts with new flame in NHS spread
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first installment in a series of area high school football pre-season training camp stories
NEDERLAND — They have been married to the power running game for so many years that the Nederland Bulldogs’ marital status seemed permanent.
Yes, you just thought Nederland’s marriage to power football became a “forever” arrangement.
Oh well, if nothing lasts forever, perhaps, the days have ended for Nederland quarterbacks to hand the ball to a tailback in the I-formation.
Larry Neumann would like to lose a few pounds but it would seem as if his personal life would appear as stable as ever. His lovely wife Beth is not worried about any possible divorce from Nederland’s 15th-year head coach.
But should Beth be worried too? Is Larry having a mid-life crisis? Has he found a new flame?
The new flame in Larry’s life looks something like this — five interior linemen, two inside receivers, two outside receivers, a quarterback about seven yards deep in the shotgun and a tailback nearby the quarterback.
“Air Larry” has arrived at the Doghouse but Neumann has intended to stay married to Nederland’s new spread offense as long as it should reap good results. After a bad practice or two, the personable NHS mentor may prefer to label the new offense “Air Monte” because offensive coordinator Monte Barrow truly came up with the idea to adopt this offense before last Christmas.
If “Air Monte” sputters too much, the Bulldogs offensive coordinator leans toward renaming the spread “Air Charlotte” for Nederland’s long-time trusty athletic secretary Charlotte Wallace.
In other words, Nederland’s coaches will be ready to take credit in a hurry if the offense clicks for 45 points and 500 yards a game. If it averages 10 points and 200 yards a game, the coaching staff figures to blame it on Charlotte.
Is there any spot in this offensive unit which qualifies as a question mark?… The answer is: How about all 11 spots?
“I’m very confident that it’s the right scheme for our personnel,” Neumann said. “We’re basing our optimism on what we did in the skill part of our off-season. I feel good about how the kids took to it.”
Most crucial to Nederland’s new wild-and-crazy ways will be quarterback Ryan Sampere, a 6-1, 190-pound multi-skilled senior. Sampere was one of three pre-season candidates for the 2005 quarterback job as a sophomore.
While the spread often showcases only one likely running threat, Nederland’s spread plans to display two running threats. That’s because Sampere and tailback Cameron Bass can run. Sampere can run and improvise enough on the run that Neumann plans to give Ryan “a blank check” to improvise at will.
“I don’t think you’d call Ryan the textbook passer in any regard,” Neumann said of Sampere. “What his asset is he has a release point on his ball from a lot of different ways. And the end result usually gets to the guy he’s throwing to. He’s the kind of guy that produces something out of what looks like it may not be there.”
Sampere wants a wide variety of pass catchers to be there on his receiving end. There will be plenty of candidates led by Regan Stanley, Asa Cardenas, defensive standout Dravannti Johnson, Ryan Brady, Jude Vidrine, Adam Broussard, Justin Krautz, Jimmy Swain and a cast of thousands.
If all goes as planned, more Nederland receivers will catch more passes than in any Bulldogs season ever. If the season unfolds properly, Sampere likely sets all sorts of Nederland single-season passing marks. If Sampere needs a replacement, sophomore Kirby Bellow or junior Jordan Landry figures to take the snaps.
The early opinions would suggest Neumann’s offensive line leaders to be junior guard Stefan Huber (6-5, 250) and senior center Michael Benefield (5-10, 205). The sharp, accurate snaps from Benefield obviously have to be flawless time after time in order for this offense to prosper.
Nederland’s defense should be much further along right now simply because each player would have much greater familiarity with his responsibilities. Two returning all-district players — University of Texas pledge Johnson and burly linebacker Chris Gutierrez — should be good.
Defensive coordinator Delbert Spell can count five returning starters, though as many as seven defensive returnees would see varsity starting minutes. Gifted sophomore Grant Lovelady looks to be a winner at the bandit backer. Landry and Gutierrez are seasoned at the inside backer jobs. Jeremy Stewart can be quite capable at strongside tackle as well as Wareall Grogan at weakside end.
Potential receivers — Stanley and Krautz — lead the secondary hopefuls. They are likely to start along with junior left corner Adrian Pina and junior right safety Jimmy Swain.
The most obvious of defensive concerns would be nose tackle where Spell would hope that one of the three candidates could step up and dominate. The likely starter probably will come from a trio of senior J.T. Copeland (5-10, 225), sophomore Marcus Louvierre (5-10, 210) and sophomore Daniel Janeaux (6-2, 230).
That’s the major question on defense. Right now on offense, there’s 11 of them.
WEDNESDAY — Port Neches-Groves
The lone new face on Nederland’s 2007 varsity coaching staff would be Randy Theriot, who has been assigned to coach outside linebackers. Theriot has replaced Cody Robbins, who has switched to coach running backs. Robbins has replaced Steven Beagle as RBs coach. Beagle resigned from his coaching position to accept an NHS assistant principal’s job…. One of the area’s finest high school trainers has returned home. NHS grad and Nederland native Terry King has accepted an assistant trainer’s position with Larry Southard after a lengthy tenure as head trainer at West Orange-Stark…. Nederland will be the home team on Aug. 31 in Reliant Stadium when it will open against Brenham at 8 p.m…. All reserve seat tickets on the home side of Bulldog Stadium have been sold for the 2007 season…. Likely special team hopefuls are Jordan Landry and/or Taylor Trahan (punter), Jimmy Swain (deep snapper), Trahan (PAT conversions), Jude Vidrine (kickoffs), Adam Broussard (punt returns) and maybe Ryan Sampere (holder).