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Bulldogs ready for No. 3 ranked Marshall – “When we are together, there isn’t any stopping us”

NEDERLAND — Fort Bend Marshall entered the playoffs as the No. 3 ranked team in the state.

The Buffalos made it to the state championship game the two previous years and breezed through the regular season, beating District 11-5A Division II competition by an average score of 63-3.

While the Bulldogs weren’t preseason favorites, they are not lacking confidence.

“Our confidence level is high,” senior running back Josh Mazyck said. “We are very confident in ourselves as a team. When we are together, there isn’t any stopping us.”

Mazyck said while the team’s energy is high, they must stay focused.

“It feels good just to know we got past the second round,” he said. “We really have to just keep moving forward. We can’t get big-headed. We still have a goal to achieve. We are just going to keep working hard and accomplish that goal and shock the world.”

The last time the Bulldogs dropped a game was late October when they lost 22-21 to Port Neches-Groves. Mazyck said the team has changed quite a bit since.

“At the beginning of the season, we were just finding out how we played together,” he said. “Now, we have it and all we really can do is build off of it. We aren’t really worried about that loss to Port Neches. We have bigger goals.”

Nederland head coach Monte Barrow said Crosby is the closest team, athletically, to Marshall that the Bulldogs have played.

“There are differences on where they like to run the ball,” Barrow said. “Crosby is not so much between the tackles like this team does. They will also do the speed sweeps like Crosby. Our defense has been up to the challenge all year. I don’t expect that will change with them. They know what is in front of them. Hopefully we can remember to get back to the angles we had to take with Crosby.”

Barrow echoed a similar sentiment to preparing for the Buffalos as Port Neches-Groves coach Brandon Faircloth before the Indians fell to Marshall 21-14 in the bi-district round.

“On offense, you can help your defense out,” he said. “The best defense is keeping their offense off the field. We will need to establish that ball control as part of what we do. At the same time, we have been a big-play team this year.”

PNG dominated the time of possession in its matchup against the Buffalos in order to keep the game close. The Nederland offense has a propensity to make big plays, often scoring from more than 50 yards out with big plays from Mazyck, who was second in District 12-5A Division II, and receiver Kyndon Fuselier, who led the district with receiving yards and yards per catch.

“We have total confidence in our defense,” he said. “If we do score in one play, that is fine. They will get back out there and do what they do. We are not going to tell them to break one and fall down at the 1-yard line or anything like that. You have to make adjustments to do what you think will give your team the best chance to win. At the same time, there is no signal sent to our team that they are not good enough to beat them doing what we do.”

The Nederland defense has been just as impressive, starting out its playoff run by shutting out opposing teams for six consecutive quarters and forcing five turnovers in a 34-21 win over Pine Tree last Saturday.

“Playing like they are playing now, that gives you confidence that you can go and replicate that,” Barrow said. “At this point, you know what you are facing. Every team gets better and better every week. You have to have takeaways more than them just giving you the football. You have to take advantage of those opportunities when you get them.”