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PNG takes on COVID-stricken Jasper; Bulldogs could be down personnel

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves Indians have a chance to achieve their first goal of the season against Jasper.

“Our first goal heading into a season is to win the first game,” PNG Head Coach Brandon Faircloth said. “Let’s get off to a great start this season. We have a tough opponent. Jasper is a great team. Coach (Darrell) Barbay does a great job. We have our work cut our for us.”

PNG scrimmaged West Orange-Stark and West Brook over the past two weeks. Faircloth said he is excited to play games that count towards the win-loss record.

“It feels awesome,” Faircloth said of the start of the season. “I feel like we had a great first two weeks. We played against two awesome teams to prepare us. I think we are prepared. We aren’t were we want to be, but we have a great group of kids, who are working hard and getting better.”

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PNG will play Jasper, Beaumont United and Tomball to help prepare for opponents in District 12-5A Division II.

“We are going to play three tough opponents,” Faircloth said. “The tougher the teams, the better for us. This is another chance for us to find out what we need to work on as we get ready for district. They are physical, fast and have a great tradition.”

Jasper will be down some coaches and players as the team deals with a COVID-19 outbreak.

“We don’t have everybody this week, so I don’t know what we are going to do,” Barbay said. “We are going to play and get after it the best we can, but we can’t help what happens sometimes.”

The Jasper coach said his team’s defense, which he anticipates being the strength this season, took the hardest hit with the outbreak.

“I am down four coaches,” he said. “We don’t look like a high school staff. We look like a junior high staff right now. I think we are down to seven coaches Friday night. We are going to be all right. I tell the kids to be excited that you get to play, because you never know what will happen. We may have to cancel or they may get something. There is no telling what may happen. There could be a hurricane next week. We are going to get our there with the kids we got and get after it.”

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The Bulldogs, a 4A program, will test their skills against a bigger school in PNG.

“They are a 5A school,” Barbay said. “Big schools like that are like what you run into in the playoffs. You see teams that play well and are coached well and do things right. We are just trying to find pieces to the puzzle right now. We want to find key personnel and stay healthy the next few weeks.”

Barbay said his team is excited to play in Port Neches with the PNG fan base.

“I am just hoping we can be in the ballgame with them,” he said. “We have been able to throw the deep ball some,” he said. “We have been a homerun team. We are going to have our work cut out for us. They are really good. We will see.”