Eagles’ offense may mirror Bulldogs’
NEW CANEY-NEDERLAND MATCHUP
• New Caney: 475.3 yards per game (208.9 rushing, 266.4 passing); leaders Marte Allison (junior RB, 1,176 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns on 199 carries); Timmy Ware (senior QB, 2,615 yards, 28 TDs on 155-of-238 passing, 4 interceptions); David Harvey (senior WR, 1,077 yards and 16 touchdowns on 59 receptions)
- Nederland: 388.6 yards per game (219.2 rushing, 169.4 passing); leaders Austin Krautz (senior QB, 1,540 yards, 19 touchdowns on 196 carries); Mitchell LeBaron (senior QB, 1,663 yards, 19 touchdowns on 119-of-214 passing, 8 interceptions); Dean Fisher (junior WR, 497 yards, 6 touchdowns on 32 receptions)
- New Caney: 293.1 yards per game (130.4 rushing, 162.7 passing)
- Nederland: 339.3 yards per game (214.1 rushing, 125.2 passing)
- Nederland coach Larry Neumann: “[Ware] can really spin it,” said Nederland coach Larry Neumann, who’s looking for his 24th playoff victory in 23 seasons at the helm. “I like the way he runs. He reminds me of a player we had here last year, Sage Seay. He’s deceptively fast and calculating on when he extends a play or takes off with the run. It starts off with him, but he’s got a lot around him.”
The numbers tend to jump out.
New Caney’s offense ranked second in District 21-5A at 475.3 yards per game, 21 behind Crosby. Its defense held the opposition to 293.1 yards a game, third only to Crosby and Humble.
Yet in this loaded district, the Eagles finished fourth, earning them a No. 2 seed in the 5A Division II bi-district round against Nederland, which kicks off at 6 Saturday night.
Nederland defensive coordinator Delbert Spell reloaded a unit that lost seven starters from last season and transformed it into another district championship bunch. But the Eagles (7-3, 5-3 in 21-5A) could give Spell’s unit a handful when they face off tonight at the Thomas Center in Beaumont.
“They are going to be tough to stop,” Spell said. “I don’t think you stop them. We just hope we get off the field a couple of times and we feel confident our offense can move the ball. We’re just going to have to play hard.”
The Bulldogs (7-3, 6-1 in 22-5A) are used to having to slow down monster offenses. Remember Vidor, which churned out 466.3 yards a game, 397.4 of which on the ground? What about Beaumont Ozen, which operated at a 448.3-yard per game clip?
District 21-5A offenses are as balanced as they come, and New Caney is a good example.
Senior Timmy Ware has thrown only four interceptions and totaled 28 touchdowns and 2,615 yards. Junior Marte Allison has rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Maybe the good thing about New Caney’s offense to Neumann is that it mirrors his offense in many ways.
“They can stretch you vertically,” he said of New Caney. “They can make you run sideways. They’ve got a quarterback who can throw it and run it and a running back who’s a strong runner. Who does that sound a little bit like? Us. Maybe we’re looking in the mirror a little bit.”
Nederland did not make it out of last year’s bi-districts as Kingwood Park took a 31-24 victory in Galena Park. The Bulldogs are feeling the urgency to avoid a second straight first-round exit.
“We set goals and first and foremost is district championship,” senior linebacker Jacob Jones said, “and after that is obviously get to state and go deep in the playoffs. We want to win this one pretty bad.
“Any week could be the last ever I step on the football field, so I want to make the most of it.”
For New Caney, Saturday’s playoff may be a little more emotional for more than just playoff reasons.
The school has been reeling from the death of sophomore Jose Damian, who was killed Sunday changing a tire, two days after his 17th birthday on Eastex Freeway. Houston station KIAH-TV (CW39) reported a 32-year-old man was arrested and charged with intoxication and manslaughter with a vehicle and possession of a controlled substance.
A classmate of Damian’s told CW39 the atmosphere inside New Caney High the day after his death was “pretty gloomy.”
For the Eagles, just being on the football field Saturday could be a much-needed release after a week of grief.