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PN-G run defense faces next test

CENTRAL—PN-G MATCHUP

Offense

Central: 355.6 yards per game (183.7 rushing, 171.8 passing); leaders, Devwah Whaley (senior running back, 1,225 yards on 180 carries with 14 touchdowns) and Quentin Derry (senior receiver, 659 yards on 38 receptions with three touchdowns)

• PN-G: 425.8 yards per game (178.8 rushing, 246.8 passing); leaders, Kody Cropper (senior running back, 872 yards on 121 carries with six touchdowns), Adam Morse (senior quarterback, 1,955 yards on 135-of-205 passing with 25 touchdowns and five interceptions) and Caisen Sullivan (senior receiver, 655 yards on 48 receptions with 11 touchdowns)

Defense

• Central: 303.1 yards per game allowed (183 rushing, 120.1 passing)

• PN-G: 261.3 ypg allowed (144.1, 117.2 passing)

Sound bytes

• Central coach Toby Foreman: “I don’t think there has been more than a touchdown lead over the last couple of years. You have to make sure in a game like this you don’t make mistakes. They have a great receiving corp and really a big difference is how much they run the ball this year. You put that element in there and they are even more dangerous. The difference with us is we finally got healthy and our offense has started to jell. Our defense and special teams has kept us in games. That is really who we are. We like to keep the game close and then go win it late. As a player and coach, I have always enjoyed going to PN-G. I am a Florida State fan, so I don’t mind that fight song. Only thing is this week, I hope I don’t hear it too many times because that means we are winning the game. I asked the players this week if there is anywhere else they would rather play a game. The atmosphere is one of the best in Southeast Texas.”

• PN-G coach Brandon Faircloth: “I would like to think we are getting better every week. That is the goal. You want to improve and continue to practice hard. You want Week 10 to be your best game of the year going into the playoffs. We want to be better this week versus last week. We were able to do that against Ozen. Central had a lot of inexperience at the beginning of the year, which we all face. They have improved every week and are 4-1 in district just like us. It is good to have a game this late in the year against really good competition. They are big, fast and physical. I am glad we get to play the Jaguars this week.”

PORT NECHES — First it was Baytown Lee’s Javarius Lee.

Then, the Port Neches-Groves defense had to deal with Lumberton’s Timothy Rhodes, Nederland’s Austin Krautz and Beaumont Ozen’s Josh Boyd and Calvin Tyler.

So, why not take on Beaumont Central’s Devwah Whaley?

The list of running backs in District 22-5A is filled with talent, speed and physicality.

PN-G’s defense is giving up 144.1 rushing yards a game against some of the area’s best runners. The Indians last week held Tyler to 88 yards. He is second in the district with 1,245 yards on 167 carries.

“Coach [Dustin] Templin has had a good game plan all year for stopping the run,” PN-G coach Brandon Faircloth said. “The kids really executed it well last week against Tyler. In order to beat Ozen you have to stop the run. [Quarterback] Josh Boyd and Calvin Tyler are wonderful players. Our kids did a good job of knowing what they had to do to be successful.”

Faircloth and Templin will ask that same defense to show up again tonight at The Reservation when Central shows up with arguably the district’s most talented running back in Whaley.

Whaley has rushed for 1,225 yards on 180 carries with 14 touchdowns. He has scored in the recruiting process as well with espn.com showing 20 college offers. The list includes teams like Georgia, Texas A&M, Alabama, Baylor, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, TCU and Texas.

“Whaley is definitely one of the best runners in the district,” Faircloth said. “He has a very bright future ahead of him. He is very physical and fast. Any word you want to use to describe him as a running back, it fits. He has all the tools. We have to be focused on him and use as many Indians as we can to get in there and tackle him. He is a really good player.”

Faircloth joked about the fact the Indians and Jaguars have played five extra quarters over the last two seasons.

“We have an overtime agreement with them,” Faircloth said in reference to last year’s double overtime Central win and 2013’s triple overtime PN-G victory. “If that is what it takes, we will do it. It has been a really close game every year.

“This game is a great warm up for the playoffs for both of us. It’s a big game late in the season. It is what you need as a program to get you going towards that direction. The teams we both have to line up against out of District 21-5A are always tough.”

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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