PNG future brightens with 7 on 7

Published 11:08 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013

 Things didn’t go the way fans might have expected on the Reservation last season. Loss after loss piled up for the Port Neches-Groves football team with the only note of hope shining from the young players in the starting lineup.

After the coaching staff decided to move away from spring workouts this year and wait for two-a-days in August, that left an even longer gap between the disappointing end of the 2012 campaign and when fans could see the first glimmers of the 2013 Indians appear.

Luckily, there was a bridge from one season to another this summer in the form of the 7-on-7 football tournaments and games that the Indians participated in along with a number of local teams.

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Played without offensive or defensive linemen, with no blitzing and no running the ball, it’s a passer’s best friend. It was also just the tonic for quarterback Ky Walker, after the junior broke his hand minutes after making his first start under center for the Indians.

“I’ve preferred this much better (than spring workouts),” Walker said. “We aren’t wearing pads in spring and we’ve cut down on injuries a little bit, which I like. As far as 7-on-7 goes, this is one of my favorite parts of preparation. It’s basically what I do without the pressure of a d-line. It’s fun. It’s just coming out here and having a good time.”

The Indians ended their 7-on-7 season on Tuesday, playing in a bi-weekly scrimmage against area teams like Hamshire-Fannett, Little Cypress-Mauriceville and Beaumont West Brook. PN-G played in two different state qualifying tournaments, making the semifinals in Lufkin.

However, only teams who make it to the finals of the qualifiers get tickets to the state tournament in Leander.

“The one in Lufkin, we did really well,” Walker said. “We beat Atascocita, Lufkin and Tyler John Tyler. They were all very big schools. They were big, tall and fast. John Tyler reminded me a lot of West Orange-Stark. Personally, I think we have one of the best 7-on-7 teams around.”

Because 7-on-7 isn’t an official event, coaches can’t instruct players at games. But, that doesn’t mean the timing and chemistry the team builds isn’t vitally important for the approaching season.

“I can’t even stress how important this is,” Walker said. “Me and my friends are out here I don’t even know how often. Even if it’s just in the yard, we’re throwing. That preparation, that timing, the more you can prepare like that, the more it carries over to Friday nights.

“The preparation is important, but it’s also about the team bonding with your receivers. My recievers are at my house every night. We just like being together. It’s awesome.”

That experience with teammates is exactly what should help junior running back Brant Halfin. Last season, Halfin played for the JV as a sophomore, so the time bonding with his offensive skill position teammates is a great way to prepare for two-a-days.

Even if the 7-on-7 experience isn’t always a great one for running backs.

“We’re bonding better,” Halfin said.  “Without pads you can’t do much. Our team is bonding and our chemistry is much better than it was last year. It’s just hard to do much without pads. You can’t block, which is what I’ll be doing a lot. You can’t run the ball. I just run normal pass routes, gos and flies, but I’m more of a decoy in this offense.”

The 2013 season will open for PN-G and other teams that did not participate in spring workouts on August 5.