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Bulldogs finally looking forward to gameday; players describe unprecedented prep week

NEDERLAND — Nederland running back Josh Mazyck said he was crushed when he heard last week’s would-be season opener against Huntsville was canceled after a slew of teammates tested positive for the coronavirus.

“It was hard,” Mazyck said. “It was the first game of my senior year, and we couldn’t play. Everyone was ready to play the first game. I was just thinking that I had to focus on this week.”

On Monday, the Bulldogs found out their next opponent, Houston Austin, elected to cancel the game due to concerns of Nederland’s outbreak.

“I just thought ‘Why us?,’” Mazyck said. “I thought this would continue to be an issue, but I texted Coach (Monte Barrow) and he said he was looking for a game. I was just hoping they could find us a game.”

The running back’s wishes came true. Within hours, Nederland replaced Houston Austin with Lufkin, which also had an opening in their schedule after Nacogdoches was forced to cancel after positive tests in its athletics program.

“(Lufkin’s) coach said he had been trying for two weeks to schedule an opponent to play this week,” Barrow said. “He was just as happy as I was.”

Barrow said he was most happy to tell his players, who just moments earlier believed they would not play for a second straight week.

“I was so excited, I wanted to scream,” Mazyck said.

Senior receiver Lance Nicolasora said he was frustrated at the prospect of having to miss a second-straight game.

“I was mad until I got the text about the replacement,” he said. “After that, I was really happy.”

Mazyck and Nicolasora said they expect greater intensity in practice this week with a game day closing in.

Barrow said he is looking forward to Thursday’s pep rally even more now that an opponent is scheduled.

“Having a game to play Friday will definitely put more pep in the rally,” he said.

The citywide pep rally starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bulldog Stadium.

Lufkin, which competes in 5A Division I, is 0-1 after a 70-32 loss to Tyler Legacy on Friday.

Nederland and Lufkin will kickoff at 7 p.m. Friday at Bulldog Stadium.