Just one more … Sparks wishes for another shot at Bulldogs
MID-COUNTY MADNESS: BUM PHILLIPS BOWL; NEDERLAND (4-2) AT PN-GROVES (5-1)
• When: 7 p.m. Friday
• Where: The Reservation
• Radio: KLVI-AM 560/KCOL-FM 92.5
• 22-5A records: Both are 3-0
• Series record: PN-G leads 48-36-7
• Last meeting: Nederland won 35-28 in 2014
PORT NECHES — Kaleb Sparks has not stopped thinking about the Nederland Bulldogs.
He hates the fact he will forever be 0-2 against his Mid-County Madness rivals.
Sparks, a 2015 graduate of Port Neches-Groves, played receiver for the Indians and twice lost heartbreaking games to the Bulldogs.
“Losing to them is brutal,” Sparks said. “It is so hard. Sometimes it is all I think about. I think about the plays I could have made to get a win in those two games. What could I have done different?”
As a senior, Sparks hauled in eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns against Nederland. This year, Sparks will be in the stands at The Reservation when the Indians host the Bulldogs for the right to take home the Bum Phillips Bowl trophy.
“Your mindset is completely different going into this week,” Sparks said. “I know you are not supposed to say that, but let’s be honest, there are thousands of people watching this game.”
Sparks never made an excuse for why his Indians came up short against the Bulldogs. The Indians lost 21-17 when Sparks was a junior and 35-28 when he was a senior.
“We had a lot of pressure on us the last two years,” Sparks added. “Every single minute of every day is focused on how can we beat them. It is amped up all week.”
Sparks said he would love nothing more than to play Nederland one more time and have another shot at winning a game in Mid-County Madness.
“I am not jealous of the stress all the players are going through this week,” Sparks said. “I am jealous they get to play Nederland. It is Mid-County Madness.”
So what was it like the moment the final horn blew and Sparks had to look up at the scoreboard and see his Indians did not score enough to beat the Bulldogs?
“You go all week being stressed and then to lose to those guys, it is the worst feeling,” Sparks said. “You feel like you let your whole community down. It is awful. A loss to Nederland is different than any other loss all year. It is just … awful.”
Sparks has been to every PN-G game this year and got to see Nederland on the Indians’ bye week. His prediction for this Friday is, of course, a little biased but he does have knowledge of the two teams.
“To me it comes down to our passing game with Adam [Morse] and our receivers Caisen [Sullivan] and Jack [Giblin],” Sparks said. “[Kody] Cropper and Jace [Runnels] are also running real hard right now. The PN-G defense is playing well, too but the difference is the PN-G passing attack. I don’t see Nederland holding PN-G to 14 points. I got the Indians, 35-14.”
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