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Faircloth: Atmosphere compares to playoff

PORT NECHES — Port Neches-Groves coach Brandon Faircloth has coached in three state championships as an assistant and won one while being the running backs coach at Highland Park.

State championship finals in Texas are some of the biggest atmospheres in the country. Faircloth would put the intensity of the Bum Phillips Bowl up against any state finals game.

“There is nothing better,” Faircloth said. “I have coached in multiple state championship games and that is the type of atmosphere it is. It is the same as those. It is loud and electric. It really is incredible.

“This is the [eighth] week of the season. At some point, it turns into a football game and all the hoopla goes behind you. It will be a 48-minute football game. We will coach it and the players will play it. Whoever executes the best will win it.”

Faircloth is coaching in his seventh game against Nederland. He fully understands the importance of knocking off the rival Bulldogs. Faircloth is also smart enough to know the Indians’ schedule does not start and stop Mid-County Madness week.

“It is one game out of our 10,” Faircloth said. “We do focus on this game a lot. We also have to make a good transition next week win or lose. The season does not end Friday. We have to put all that we have into Friday to try and win and then quickly put it behind us. We have three tough opponents after this one.

“I did not know how big this game was before I got here. Then you see all the elementary school pep rallies that my kids were a part of. The game is special. I had certainly never coached in something like that. It is a playoff game atmosphere. It is the best game you can have to get your guys ready for the playoffs.”

What also helps is the level of competition the Indians will face against the Bulldogs. Nederland has won four straight district titles, including a share with Beaumont Central last year, and three straight outright the previous seasons. The Bulldogs are also riding a five-game winning streak against PN-G.

“Nederland is very talented,” Faircloth said. “Obviously, they are very well-coached. I don’t see any differences than I have seen in the last seven years. They have really good players, a good scheme and coaches. They are tough on everybody. We are going to try and be the ones to knock them off.”

First order of business is finding a way to slow down one of the district’s best players, Nederland running back Austin Krautz. He has 1,040 yards rushing on 118 carries with 12 touchdowns.

“Krautz is at the top of running backs we have seen this year,” Faircloth added. “He is smart and catches the ball out of the backfield. He is not just a great running back. He is a good receiver, a good blocker and good pass catcher. He has great speed. Austin is one of the most complete football players we have played. All eyes will be on him and find out where he is.”

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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