Getting healthier: Indians gain more bodies for playoff
Published 12:26 am Friday, November 13, 2015
PORT NECHES — The year 1946 was a very, very, very long time ago.
It was 69 years ago to be exact.
The year is significant because that was the last time the Port Neches-Groves Indians defeated the Dayton Broncos.
The two teams meet at 7 p.m. at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown in the Class 5A Division II bi-district playoffs.
Dayton defeated PN-G, 56-44, in this round last season. Dayton comes into this postseason 7-3 and finished third in District 21-5A behind Crosby and C.E. King.
PN-G finished the regular season 8-2 and shared the District 22-5A championship with rival Nederland.
This is the third straight playoff appearance for the Indians, who face a Broncos team that has reached the postseason 20 times in a row.
When asked what he sees in the 2015 Broncos, PN-G coach Brandon Faircloth only needed to use one word.
“Talent,” Faircloth said.
Dayton is powered by a balanced offense that averages 460.2 yards per game, 259.7 rushing and 200.5 passing.
“They have an amazing program,” Faircloth added. “Coach [Jowell] Hancock and those coaches do a great job getting their kids ready to play. They are in a very tough district. It is a tough matchup for us. They are big and physical. It is a playoff game. Everybody is good. Everyone is well coached. We are going to have to be ready to play.”
The key this season for PN-G is that the Indians are healthier going into this game versus last year when the top two linebackers (Trey Rembert and Michael Hughes) missed the first-round contest. PN-G got back receiver Keynel McZeal last week after the junior receiver was cleared to play from being injured in non-district play against Tyler Chapel Hill.
“Last Friday, it was a good experience to get back on the field the week before the playoffs,” McZeal said. “It was nice to suit up with my teammates again. The sitting and watching was terrible. I missed playing and I was looking forward to playing the entire season.”
Faircloth said he is pleased having McZeal back and other injured Indians back near full health.
“We are as healthy as we have been,” Faircloth added. “We have dealt with a bunch of injuries this season, just like everybody has. It was fun to see everyone at practice on Monday.
“Keynel played last Friday night. He still has to wear a brace. It was good for him to be out there.”
So what do the Indians have to do to get past the first round for the first time since 2010?
“We are going to have to protect the football and our defense is going to have to continue to get turnovers like they have,” Faircloth added. “Last year, we turned the ball over a few times in inopportune moments and gave them the lead.”