PRUETT COLUMN: No rivalry just yet, but a start

Published 1:19 am Sunday, October 16, 2016

This was not just another game.

When Port Arthur Memorial took on Port Neches-Groves Friday at Memorial Stadium, it was much more than just a game.

It could be seen by the size of both crowds. There were more people gathered at Memorial Stadium two nights ago than I have ever seen in my four years with The News.

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And, it was great to see.

The game was a good one. I predicted Memorial would win and I even told several people the difference maker would be Titans’ running back Elijah Hines.

Hines had 303 yards on 31 carries and five touchdowns in one of the most impressive performances this season.

The beauty of this game was the way all the communities involved participated in the event. There was a great feeling in the stadium and PNG fans started filling the stands at 4:30 p.m., two-and-a-half hours before the start of the game.

I am glad I was wrong at the start of the week about what the game meant to everyone involved.

Is the game the start of a rivalry? Is there already a rivalry because of past games between PNG and Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln?

With all due respect to anyone who thinks so, my answer to the second question is no.

Now, that does not mean this can’t grow into something special, if both teams stay in the same district. I will touch more on this in a moment.

You can’t have a rivalry when the teams have played only one game. That doesn’t mean the game Friday did not mean a lot to all involved and it doesn’t mean the older generations cannot get excited because of the history between Port Arthur and PNG.

I encourage all the talk. I tried all week to pretend Friday’s game would not mean much to a lot of people, and I was wrong.

It did mean a lot and you could tell by the atmosphere on both sides of the stadium.

Will it continue to grow? That is a good question.

I talked with several folks Friday who insisted the UIL will soon divide Class 5A into divisions, exactly how it has done to the lower classifications.

This could spell doom to the Port Arthur/PNG series in a hurry. If this change comes and the two are not district foes, 2017 might be the last time the schools play each other for quite some time again.

So enjoy what happened this past Friday and get ready for next year. The game was something special and next year should be the exact same way when the Titans play at The Reservation.

Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe

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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