Port Neches-Groves seniors look for sweep in Bum Phillips Bowl

Published 12:40 am Thursday, September 23, 2021

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves seniors have a sweep on their minds as they prepare for their final Bum Phillips Bowl.

PNG has won the last three contests against Nederland moving their all-time record to 52-38-7 in favor of the Indians. Since the Bum Phillips Trophy was introduced, the Indians have a 4-3 lead.

Running back Koby Trahan has played in the game since his sophomore year. He said going 3-0 would be a dream come true.

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READ MORE: Nederland Bulldogs hungry for Bum Phillips Bowl victory over PNG.

“The feeling starts changing at the beginning of the week when people start talking about it,” he said. “It is all mental with physical prep. It is one of our biggest games of the year and it is our biggest rival.”

While many involved try to treat the game as any other, Trahan said there is a different energy in the stadium.

“The atmosphere is a lot different,” he said. “There are more fans and more screaming. Every play feels like the biggest tackle or the biggest gain ever… It would feel good to close my yearbook being undefeated against the Bulldogs for my high school career.”

PNG Head Coach Brandon Faircloth will coach his 13th Mid County Madness game Friday.

“It has to feel different,” he said. “It means so much to all three communities. I didn’t think we could make it any bigger and then we named it and added a big trophy that you get. The fireworks around the game are different than any other game. It is a district game. It counts for playoffs. There is a lot on the line. The next seven weeks, there is a lot on the line. To start it with Mid County Madness and the Bum Phillips trophy adds a lot of drama, but we are excited.

“Many players don’t get to play in a rivalry game like this. For our guys and kids, they are excited to be part of it. I am excited to be a part of it, myself. We don’t take it lightly.”

The coach said he tries to clear his mind during the game and take it one play at a time.

“Once you start, you are in the zone,” he said. “It is like any other game besides how loud it is. You are focused on your job as a coach. We just make sure that the kids are playing fast and confident.”

The games are typically close. Of the last 11 meetings between the two schools, eight of the games were decided by one score. Only one of those games was decided by more than one score.

The game will also be the 98th meeting in the last 96 years dating back to 1925.

The longest win streak belongs to PNG with a run of 15 games from 1969-1983.

Nederland’s last win was a 36-35 win in 2017.

While the game will be played in Port Neches, Faircloth said it is hard to drum up a home-field advantage in the rivalry.

“The last five years, we have beaten them over there and they have beaten us over here,” he said. “I don’t think it matters. Their kids grew up playing over here and our kids played over there. The familiarity makes it so special. The kids grew up going to church together and playing little league together. Some of their parents went to Port Neches and some of ours went to Nederland. Some moms went to one and dads went to another. It is a unique situation down here. That is why it is the No. 1 rivalry in the state of Texas.”