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PA NEWS GAME OF THE WEEK: LUMBERTON AT PN-G

PORT NECHES — From one end of Pure Atlantic Highway to the other, those 2007 Port Neches-Groves Indians are the new Champions of Mid-County.

They earned it — fair and square — 28-16 at Bulldog Stadium. Even Larry Neumann said they earned it. By golly, Indian Ken knows they earned it…. but Lumberton could care less.

Lumberton has no use for all that Mid-County Braggin’ Rights stuff. A former PN-G receivers coach, second-year Lumberton mentor Alvin Credeur has been through all that Mid-County Madness matter.

Alvin believes his senior-laden Lumberton squad has its eyes on another meaningful prize — a District 22-4A football championship.

Never in their modest 41-year history have the Raiders ever been to the UIL state football playoffs. Credeur may have something to do with rewriting that history this year.

Never in seven tries have the Raiders defeated PN-G, either. Yet do not put it past Lumberton (6-0 and 3-0) to accomplish that novel achievement tonight at Indian Stadium. Such a victory certainly would spoil the 2007 Homecoming festivities on The Reservation for PN-G (4-2 and 3-0).

But there’s already a lot which critics can’t take away from either of these 22-4A co-leaders. They can’t take that win over Nederland away from PN-G’s hard-working seniors, who yearned for that first taste of Mid-County Madness success.

They can’t take away from Lumberton the fact that the Raiders are the only team on earth to defeat both Dayton and Beaumont Central this year. Lest we forget, the Broncos and the Jaguars were the league’s 2006 powerhouses and 2007 pre-season favorites.

Understandably, the events have created unprecedented hoopla and community involvement for the Raiders. Yet when all the distractions subside, enormous similarities exist all over the place between PN-G and Lumberton.

Both teams run the ball… and run the ball some more. They even huddle. They even shorten the game. They offer great appeal for fans who love 50s, 60s, and 70s football.

Both teams have seniors, seniors and more seniors, with plenty of returning starters.

Both teams have head coaches with sons playing integral roles as seniors on those teams. Indians’ defensive end Clint Burnett is playing as if he’s lobbying for a spot on the Port Arthur News Super Team. Raiders handy-man Aaron Credeur plays quarterback occasionally, starts at split end and probably cleans up the locker room when dad needs his help.

As Indians’ chief Matt Burnett has expressed before, the Lumberton coach practically felt like a dad to all this group of Raiders seniors. After all, he came to Lumberton six seasons ago as a seventh-grade coach when these seniors were seventh-graders.

The familiar characteristics in these coaches and their teams almost make Credeur pinch himself.

“It’s funny, isn’t it?” Credeur said on Thursday. “It really is… Our two ballclubs are very similar, I think.

“They’re (the Indians) a physical club. They play hard every down. Basically that’s it. You don’t have to run a 4.3 in the 40. You need a lot of big hearts, blood, sweat and tears. That’s what we’ve been able to do — work hard and do the things necessary to win games. We have a very unselfish team.”

They waged quite a war at Raider Stadium last year with PN-G winning 36-23, especially because of its pass-and-catch tandem of Harrison Tatum and Matt Johnson. The two of them looked as if they might be beginning to click last week against Nederland, too.

Each team also comes to war with powerful running backs. Ripping through Central for 254 yards and four TDs last week, Lumberton senior tailback Cody Hussey vaulted into the district individual rushing lead after carrying the ball 35 times.

Hussey entered week 7 with the 22-4A scoring lead (60 points) and rushing plateau (95 carries for 710 yards). PN-G’s Jake Hemmings is right behind Hussey with 54 points. The Indians senior stands in third place among league rushers with 94 carries for 503 yards.

If those individual numbers contain a parallel, their respective team statistics separate PN-G and Lumberton more obviously. Lumberton leads 22-4A by a wide gap in both total offense (354.2 yards a game) and total defense (175.3). No school is anywhere near Lumberton in rushing offense or rushing defense numbers.

The Raiders are led in tackles by middle linebacker Anthony Beard (34 tackles) and strong safety Jeremy Carter (30).

PN-G is better than its stats for two reasons. First, the Indians opened with state powerhouse La Marque. Second, the purples changed offensive styles after a couple of games and adopted their old power-running ways.

The Indians are fifth in 22-4A total offense at 270.8 yards a game. Last week’s halftime return of corner Kenneth Tezeno did a lot to help contain Nederland’s superb receiver Asa Cardenas. Yet PN-G ranks seventh in 22-4A total defense, allowing 294 yards a game.



LUMBERTON VS. PN-G

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Indian Stadium, Port Neches

Records: Lumberton 6-0, 3-0; PN-G 4-2, 3-0

Series: PN-G leads 7-0

Last year: PN-G, 36-23

Radio: KCOL-FM (92.5)

TV: The Port Arthur News Friday Night Experience, Cable 18, Wednesday night at 7 p.m.



LUMBERTON OFFENSE

QB — Bryce DeJohn (7)

FB — Aaron Grillo (33)

TB — Cody Hussey (5)

SE — Aaron Credeur (17)

FL — Travis Wilkerson (25)

TE — Cody Evans (88)

LT — Hunter Dowden (55)

LG — PJ Hartt (52)

C — Kyle Gillam (64)

RG — Andy Golden (50)

RT — John Schmidt (76)

PN-G DEFENSE

LE — Clint Burnett (80)

LT — Stephen Savant (75)

RT — Jody McDonald (64)

RE — Zeke Schexnider (85)

SAM — Kaleb Walker (88)

WILL — Austin Miller (1)

OLB — Hagan Crorey (5)

LCB — Jacob Broussard (41)

RCB — Kenneth Tezeno (29)

SS — Benjamin Lancaster (4)

FS — Brett Doty (6)

PN-G OFFENSE

SE — Matt Johnson (81)

LT — Lloyd McLin (51)

LG — Josh Cortez (60)

C — Tanner Ross (55)

RG — Dillon Harrison (67)

RT — Jerin Spikes (72)

TE — Zeke Schexnider (85)

QB — Harrison Tatum (8)

FB — Jake Hemmings (33)

TB — Josh Wright (9)

FL — Drew Barnett (2)

LUMBERTON DEFENSE

LE — Jonathan Ward (95)

LT — Mark Murrill (61)

RT — Jacob Hanna (24)

RE — Kendall Duvall (14)

LLB — Cody Gilfillian (58)

MLB — Anthony Beard (49)

RLB — Justin Hare (4)

LCB — BJ Belt (2)

RCB — Jonathon Bell (3)

SS — Jeremy Carter (6)

FS — Travis Wilkerson (25)