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Unexpected scenario: Bulldogs, Tigers fighting for 1st gridiron win

SILSBEE (0-2) AT NEDERLAND (0-2)

Prep football; 7:30 tonight, Bulldog Stadium; KLVI-AM 560

NEDERLAND — In just two weeks, a still-highly anticipated game of perennial playoff powers has turned into a battle for either team’s first win of the season.

Monte Barrow

It reads like a scenario for Nederland’s and Silsbee’s season openers, but both have gone through tough non-district slates. So, the thing third-year head coach Monte Barrow has Nederland doing is focusing more on Nederland than Silsbee.

“We’re about, right now in practice, fixing the Nederland Bulldogs, whether we’re playing Silsbee this week or whoever it is,” Barrow said. “It’s about fixing us, and hopefully our players, I think they understand by the emphasis we put on little different things in practice where we’ve got to get better at.”

At 0-2, the Bulldogs aren’t taking lightly a Silsbee team that went to the 4A Division II state semifinals last December. But that team is also 0-2 after double-digit losses to Port Neches-Groves and Newton.

Then again, it’s PNG and Newton that’s beaten Silsbee, just like West Orange-Stark and Beaumont United have given Nederland fits.

“Did they have a lot to do with what went on the other night? Absolutely,” Barrow said of United, who visits Memorial tonight. “If they wouldn’t have played like the way they played, we still would have had trouble based on the things we were doing to ourselves.”

Nederland last started 0-2 in 2016, missing the playoffs that season before Barrow was elevated from offensive coordinator. That officially became 0-3 after a 51-9 blowout of Livingston was forfeited for the use of an ineligible player.

Mistakes Barrow said that weren’t made in preseason scrimmages surfaced in the Bulldogs’ first two games, and it’s one blown assignment or another that’s opened the door for the opposition to make a big play.

“It makes you scratch your head a little bit about, ‘What are we doing in practice and not being able to transfer that on the field?’” Barrow said. “In practice, our scripts, our walk-throughs, our assignments are there. And then when we get into the game, we have one missed assignment, which leads to bad things offensively or defensively. Our communication, we harped on that. It was not good the other night.”

Josh Mazyck

Nederland has found some consistency on the ground with junior Josh Mazyck, who already has 201 yards and two touchdowns rushing (101.5 per game, 6.09 per carry) and through the air from senior Bryce McMorris to sophomore Kyndon Fuselier (168 receiving yards, 12 per catch).

Silsbee will bring a versatile running attack sparked by senior quarterback Dralyn Taylor and running back Chris Martin.

For Barrow, it’s just a matter of staying on the same page.

“We have a chance to have a successful play if we all get on the same page, whether that page is the page we’re supposed to be on or the page we’re not supposed to be on,” he said. “You can still have something positive out of 11 guys being on the same page of what they’re doing.”

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

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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