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New slate: 2015 Bulldogs begin own championship chase

VIDOR-NEDERLAND MATCHUP

(NOTE: Vidor’s statistics include all but its third game against Channelview.)

Offense

• Vidor: 433.5 yards per game (426 rushing, 7.5 passing); leaders Blake Rowe (senior FB, 225 yards on 32 carries, 3 touchdowns) and Trevor Duff (146 yards on 21 carries)

• Nederland: 444 yards per game (230 rushing, 214 passing); leaders Austin Krautz (senior RB, 452 yards on 49 carries, 6 touchdowns) and Sean Nguyen (sophomore RB, 108 yards on 11 carries)

Defense

• Vidor: 228.5 yards per game (146 rushing, 82.5 passing); leaders Dakota DeWitt (senior free safety, 2 interceptions)

• Nederland: 352.3 yards per game (205.7 rushing, 146.6 passing); leaders Jalen Cunningham (senior DB, 1 interception)

Sound bytes

• Vidor coach Jeff Matthews: “They’re just so well-coached. When you’ve got coach [Larry] Neumann, and he’s kept the same two coordinators, and when you win four district championships in a row, it’s just good coaching. They’ll graduate nine seniors on offense and come back and be a stronger team.”

• Nederland coach Larry Neumann: “We’re proud of our history. It motivates you to be as good as you can be behind that history, but you also know you’ve got a different team. In my opinion, there’s no real relevance to last year’s results whether you won or lost compared to how you do this year. I’ve done this a number of years, but it’s what I’ve come to learn.”

Nederland football coach Larry Neumann gave a look as if he was trying to understand the question: Who did the Bulldogs share the District 22-5A championship with last season?

He answered: Beaumont Central. He added: “It’s irrelevant to this year.

“I think [Alabama coach] Nick Saban said it best: ‘Every year, you have a new football team, because the foundation of your leadership has graduated,’” Neumann quoted. “We spend five months of offseason in Texas, like every other team does, developing our leadership base and a follow-ship base and our chemistry base. Going into the season, you have a new product.”

What isn’t easily forgotten in 22-5A circles is that Nederland has won or shared the district title the past four years.

Regardless, as Neumann would have it, the Bulldogs of 2015 are trying to chart their own championship trail. And the trail begins tonight at Bulldog Stadium against Jeff Matthews’ Pirates.

Many can expect Vidor (1-2) to rely heavily on the rush out of the Slot-T formation. Through two of their games recorded in 22-5A statistics [their loss to Channelview is not included], the Pirates have rushed for all but 15 of their 867 total yards. Matthews said the Pirates like to throw 10 to 12 times per game.

“It’s not that we hate throwing,” Matthews said. “With our personnel, we try to shorten the game. We try to keep the opponent’s best players off the field.”

Even after the two counted games, Blake Rowe

(225 yards), Trevor Duff (146), Kolby Humble (144) and Haylon Leckett (137) still rank among the top 15 in the district in total rushing yards. Nederland’s Austin Krautz’s 452 yards tops that chart.

The Pirates are very deceptive and physical with their style of offense, Neumann said.

“We know exactly what to expect from them regarding their scheme, how disciplined you have to be, how physical you have to be to even slow it down,” he added. “They’ve been very productive against us with that scheme. They have our full attention because of their type of scheme.”

The Bulldogs, who were off last week, are going for their second consecutive win after a 0-2 start. They’ve taken a stronger heed to Neumann’s message of consistency in play as the weeks have gone by.

“We started to do more things right, more consistently,” he said, “starting to do things with a better motor.”

They’ve also played with more of a better focus, leading to fewer penalties, Neumann added.

It’s all a formula this edition of Bulldogs will rely on as they begin their own district run — or as some hope for, a continuation of prominence in 22-5A.

“You’re motivated by your history,” Neumann said. “You’re motivated by the teams before you, and I hope it works in a positive way for our team. But it gives you no points. It gives you no great defense. You have to do that with the team you have right now. Our team knows that. Every one of our teams knows that.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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