Field takes bigger beating than Jasper or NHS
NEDERLAND — Bring on Fieldturf at Bulldog Stadium and please install it by next week’s Nederland football season opener.
The stadium’s nice south end scoreboard would read Jasper 29, Nederland 22 by around 10:15 Thursday night.
But neither group of Bulldogs appeared to have sustained the kind of licking which the natural grass field suffered after this four-quarter simulated-game style scrimmage.
Jasper and Nederland head coaches pondered the idea of postponing this final dress rehearsal until tonight during a Thursday afternoon phone call. NHS mentor Larry Neumann said he extended the option to Jasper boss Thomas Brooks during the day.
Brooks wanted to play sooner, than later, partially due to Jasper’s plan to open its season (next week) on a Thursday night (against Gilmer). So the Piney Woods Dogs headed this way and the field suffered quite a beating.
“That’s the soggiest I’ve ever seen it (Bulldog Stadium’s playing field) in my 15 years here,” Neumann admitted afterwards. “But I don’t have any regrets that we went on with it. We knew it would be like it was.”
Fortunately for both Bulldogs, the amount of significant injuries and turnovers stayed at a minimum. The conditions did not prevent either side from staying in the shotgun offense all night.
“What I wanted to see was a four-quarter ballgame,” Neumann continued. “Give Jasper credit. We had some busts on both sides of the ball. We did have some positives.”
Those arguably started with the work of seniors Wareall Grogan and Jordan Landry. Without projected starter Justin Krautz at running back (hyperextended knee), Grogan scored fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 20 and 38 yards, rushing six times for 71 yards along with logging a busy night at defensive end.
Linebacker Landry had seven tackles and Grogan four to pace a Nederland defense which trailed 29-6 after three quarters and struggled with Jasper’s expected big-play capabilities.
Jasper quarterback Dominique Bailey proved a smooth operator, completing 8 of 13 for 169 yards and running 10 times for 87 yards.
Bailey ran for one score and threw for another, keeping the ball on a 40-yard scamper for a 16-0 lead at the start of the second quarter. The visitors nudged it up to 23-6 with 23 seconds left in the half as Bailey connected with Darren Beavers on a 29-yard scoring toss.
Nederland passer Kirby Bellow distinguished himself on a rough throwing night, too. Bellow was 14 of 25 for 185 yards and one touchdown. The junior lefty flipped a 30-yard scoring pass over the middle to Asa Cardenas with 1:08 left in the first half.
Brooks credited lineman Carlos Carter and linebacker Dimitric Brown for standing out the most among his defenders.
“I’m being realistic and I’m not thinking we’re that much better than Nederland,” Jasper’s Brooks said. “But we’re way ahead of where we were in the pre-season last year.”
Cardenas led all receivers with six receptions for 72 yards. The Nederland receiver can expect plenty of attention when West Orange-Stark will arrive for the season opener.
Jasper led in total yards, 351-288, with both sides compiling 13 first downs. Jasper owned the stronger rushing night, 169 yards to 89, while Nederland slightly held the upper hand in the air, 199-182.