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MCM looming, Indians remain focused on Raiders

PN-G—LUMBERTON MATCHUP

NOTE: Lumberton stats through three games

Offense

PN-G: 441.2 yards per game (183.6 rushing, 257.6 passing); leaders Adam Morse (senior QB, 1,288 yards on 94-of-142 passing with 15 touchdowns and 2 interceptions) and Caisen Sullivan (senior WR, 358 yards on 26 receptions with 5 touchdowns)

• Lumberton: 384.3 yards per game (278.6 rushing, 105.6 passing); leaders Tim Rhodes (senior RB, 312 yards on 49 carries with 3 touchdowns) and Keaton Upshaw (junior RB, 224 yards on 40 carries with 2 touchdowns)

Defense

• PN-G: 205.8 yards per game allowed (108.2 rushing, 103.6 passing)

• Lumberton: 286.7 yards per game allowed (224.3 rushing, 62.3 passing)

Sound bytes

• PN-G coach Brandon Faircloth: “They (Raiders) brought a lot of people to The Butch last Saturday so they will have a great crowd on Friday. I think everyone wants to beat the Indians, and everyone has a hostile crowd when we come over. Lumberton has great fans. They are very supportive and they have a great student section.”

• Lumberton coach Chris Babin: “We had to go back to work after losing last week. It was a bitter pill. We feel we let a few opportunities slip through our fingers. We are not satisfied with just competing against teams like Beaumont Central. Our kids are excited about the future. This is a typical PN-G team. They are disciplined and play extremely hard. They have several college-bound players. The quarterback is an excellent player and he has several guys to choose from to throw the ball to and their running backs run real hard. Our kids know every week in this district is going to be very hard. The last-place team is a tough out. These kids are motivated and more prepared this year to do great things. I told our kids after Wednesday’s practice, there are a lot of reasons to play high school football and getting to play the Indians in a big game is a main reason. I am confident both sides of stands will be full. The vibe of the game will be exciting. It is going to be a fun atmosphere to play a football game in.”

PORT NECHES — No coach likes to look to the past too often.

The past certainly is no help this week to the Port Neches-Groves Indians, who head to Lumberton to face the 4-1 Raiders.

The Raiders have lost 14 of 15 games to the Indians through the years. They are a team with only two trips to the postseason in the program’s history, which dates back to 1966.

Throw that out the window because first-year coach Chris Babin has Lumberton back on the L-Train and headed down the right path.

“They are playing real well this season,” PN-G coach Brandon Faircloth said. “They have good players and are well coached, just like I will say every week for every team in this district.

“It is going to be a battle and it is going to be physical. They are a run-first offense so they are going to challenge us physically. It is going to be a tough football game for sure.”

Lumberton was the darling of the Southeast Texas football scene through the first four games. The Raiders were undefeated until losing to Beaumont Central on a last-second touchdown last Saturday.

“They had their chances to win the game last week,” Faircloth said.

One of the main reasons the Raiders had a chance to win was the running of senior Tim Rhodes. He ran for 177 yards on 28 carries Saturday against the Jaguars.

The PN-G coaching staff had a bird’s-eye view of the contest since the Indians had played on Friday night.

“He is a great player,” Faircloth said. “We have been watching him since he was in middle school and then as a freshman and now on varsity. He is a great back. He is fast and physical, plus he has a great offensive line blocking for him.

“You stop him as a team. We have 11 guys on defense. We all have to get there and get around him. It is not about one guy but our defense will have to key on him.”

One thing is for certain, the Indians are playing some of their best football during this three-game winning streak.

The Indians are allowing 11.3 points per game over the past three contests while scoring an average of 42.6 points over the same span.

“We hope we are playing complete football,” Faircloth added. “We still have a long way to go. We are doing some good things. We move the ball on offense and we are holding teams to a low number of points on defense.

“We are improving. We have to continue to improve and not get satisfied with where we are as a team.”

The Indians chief is not too concerned his team will overlook the Raiders with Mid-County Madness and the Bum Phillips Bowl against Nederland next Friday looming.

“It is a faceless opponent for us every week,” Faircloth said. “We worry about ourselves. We know Mid-County Madness is out there. There have been games before it and there will be games after it. We understand the seriousness of that game and the focus that will be on it. We have Lumberton to focus on this week. They have our attention.”

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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