Indians seek to overcome adversity at LU

Published 12:24 am Friday, November 11, 2016

PORT NECHES — The way Port Neches-Groves coach Brandon Faircloth looks at it, he and the Indians only try to control what they can.

One of those things tonight involves overcoming untimely adversity.

When the Indians (9-1, 7-1 District 22-5A) face off against Barbers Hill (8-2, 6-2 in 21-5A) in the 5A Division I bi-district round at Lamar University, they won’t have two of their top playmakers on the field. Senior receiver Keynel McZeal is out with a hand injury, and junior running back Preston Hughes will miss the game with a foot injury.

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“This has been a team that’s overcome adversity all year long,” Faircloth said. “We’ve had guys injured. We’ve had guys out. Our guys have found a way to come together and pull through. That’s what we’ll try to do Friday night.”

PNG enters the playoffs as a 22-5A co-champion along with Port Arthur Memorial and Vidor. Earning a share of the district title for the second year in a row turned into reality with Vidor’s 31-21 win over Port Arthur Memorial and PNG’s 41-21 decision over a Nederland team still fighting for a playoff berth gave the Indians plenty to celebrate.

“All we really think about is what we can control,” Faircloth said. “We didn’t control that [district race]. So, really, all we were worried about was Nederland, and they definitely deserved all of our focus. It’s a great cherry on top after a big win like that. We were excited to get that, absolutely.”

Now, here comes a Tom Westerberg-coached team called the Eagles.

Westerberg made statewide news last winter when became Barbers Hill’s coach last winter after leading the Allen Eagles to four state championships in eight years. BH enjoyed a four-game improvement this season and will play its first postseason game since 2012.

“They’re a great team,” Faircloth said. “At this point in the season, everybody in the playoffs has a good team with good players and is well-coached, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

BH was third behind Crosby and New Caney in 21-5A, but the Eagles were not without the district’s leading passer in junior Cameron Cauthen. He has thrown for 2,210 yards and 25 touchdowns with only four interceptions, and his top two targets — juniors Skyler Langelier and Dylan Griffis — rank among the top three receivers in the league. Langelier needs just 114 yards to reach 1,000 for the season.

“We watch film on them every day,” senior defensive lineman Luke Morris said. “We’ve come out here every day and expect our scouts to give us a good look. It’s all about preparation and the mentality of coming out here and giving effort, doing your job and all that stuff.”

The Indians are trying for their second consecutive trip to the area round, where they would face either Houston Waltrip or Fort Bend Willowridge.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews


• When: 7 tonight

• Where: Provost Umphrey Stadium, Beaumont

• Radio: KCOL-FM 92.5

• District records: Barbers HIll 6-2 in 21-5A; PNG 7-1 in 22-5A

• Series record: PNG leads 4-0; last meeting, PNG won 21-13 in 2010

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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