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CHRIS MOORE — Southeast Texas continues to prove it is more than football area

Texas is known for being one of the biggest football hubs in the nation. It has long been said football is equal to religion in the state.

I am not disputing the area is football dominant. With multiple Pro Bowls from Earl Thomas and Jamaal Charles and Super Bowl appearances by Christine Michaels and the family tradition of the Babineaux brothers, it is hard to argue the stronghold football has on us.

While it is true that you can see almost any stadium packed on a Friday night, the area has become one of the epicenters for sports as a whole in the state.

Two Southeast Texas teams have won the 5A basketball championships in the last four years with Memorial winning it in 2017 and Beaumont United winning it this season.

Those two teams play in the same district and always guarantee a good matchup.

Also in 2017, Memorial’s track program recorded the second fasted 4×100 relay time in the history of high school track in the nation.

I recently talked to a coach in the district who said he was happy that his team competes against Memorial each year, because his players know how they matchup with the best in the state.

That same year, Port Neches-Groves won the state title for baseball.

Jay Bruce, one of the best baseball players the area produced, retired this week from Major League Baseball after 14 seasons. Bruce graduated from West Brook in 2005, was drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Reds and made his MLB debut in 2008.

Several local athletes are performing well in their respective sports at the college level. Memorial grad Kenneth Lofton Jr. was one of the most captivating freshmen in college basketball this season, leading the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to a third-place finish in the NIT Tournament.

PNG grad Carson Roccaforte recently broke the Louisiana-Lafayette school record for steals in a game with five as a freshman.

Nederland has a historic tennis program with a state championship by Brandon Do in 2019. His sister Meagan Do is in prime position to keep the family tradition strong this year.

Andrew Landry and Chris Stroud, both PNG grads, regularly appear in PGA tournaments.

As is the case with most years, Memorial’s track team features some of the football team’s biggest stars. University of Texas commit Jaylon Guilbeau, quarterback Jah’mar Sanders and receiver Tyrence Augusta are on the relay team.

While many know them from their gridiron heroics, all three said they are aware of the tradition within the school’s track program.

Several area teams have a chance to win state this year, with Memorial’s track team included. PNG’s baseball team is making another solid push by sweeping Barbers Hill, which was ranked No. 5 in the state.

It is time to stop calling this a football area and just call it a sports area.

 

Chris Moore is the sports editor for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at chris.moore@panews.com.