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FOOTBALL: Indians hope experience equals depth

PORT NECHES — The phrase “Next man up,” means no matter who goes down with an injury, the person behind him needs to be ready to take over. The Port Neches-Groves Indians ended non-district play with a 1-2 record and know all about that mentality.

The Indians are coming off a bye week after losing 31-21 to Tomaball and head coach Brandon Faircloth said everyone is 0-0 now going into District 12-5A-II play. The next game up for the Indians is a home bout against the Vidor Pirates (3-0) in a

“We played some tough opponents and had some injuries,” he said. “Some unfortunate things happened. Our 1-2 record doesn’t matter now. We played a hard schedule because we want to be the best we can be. Only way we can do that is to play some great teams and we did that.”

Injuries plagued the Indian offense. During the fourth quarter of PNG’s 31-14 loss to Huntsville, starting quarterback Roschon Johnson went down with an ankle sprain. Not only did Johnson not return in that game, he sat out the following contest against Tomball.

Senior quarterback Grant Rogers stepped in for Johnson going 17-31 threw the air for 218 and two touchdowns along with two interceptions.

“I think it’s going to help a lot,” Faircloth said of having to play backups. “I think its something that’s not fun doing sometimes. It pays off in the long run. In a tough district schedule like we have, the more experience we have, the better off we are.”

Rogers said that he did not expect to see significant playing time this year, but he was happy for the opportunity.

“It built my character,” Rogers said. “We have to be able to overcome adversity and I think getting that playing time helped me. I know I have to be prepared for anything.”

Johnson is expected to make his return to his starting role Friday.

Backup running back Jaylan Williams saw more touches with Gavin Deslatte’s injury. Williams finished the game with 68 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.

“With the kind of teams we’re going to play, we need two tailbacks,” Faircloth said. “I don’t think you can give a guy the ball 30 balls with the hits they are going to take. We feel confident with having two guys. We always wan to run two guys.”

Williams said the extra reps helped his confidence and knowing he can carry a workload.

“I always have the mentality of ‘Next man up,’” Williams said. “I just want to help the team out the best way I can. I gained more confidence in my ability to help and I think I bettered my play.”

Kick off is set for 7:30 at the reservation.