Port Neches-Groves taking control of its playoff hopes with road battle

Published 12:26 am Friday, October 15, 2021

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves Indians took back control of their playoff hopes with a 49-35 win over Barbers Hill last week.

This week, PNG (4-2, 2-1 in District 12-5A Division II) hopes the rolls don’t get reversed as Kingwood Park (1-5, 0-3) searches for an upset as the underdog.

After practice Wednesday, PNG Head Coach Brandon Faircloth told his team to expect desperation from Kingwood Park, who will likely see any hopes of the playoffs vanish with a loss this evening.

The Panthers’ only win of the season came in Week 1 in a 35-20 contest against Sam Houston. Since, Kingwood Park has allowed at least 40 points in each of its games with their last one being a 67-13 loss to Crosby.

The Panthers are last in the district in defense, allowing 477 yards per game. They also feature the second-worst offense in the district with 244 yards per game.

“Our preparation is the same,” Faircloth said. “We worked all week long to prepare for Kingwood Park. We don’t change the schedule. They have a great staff and are really well coached. I think the results are a little deceiving. I think they have a realty good team.”

Faircloth said football is a game where any team can win on any given day.

“I didn’t think (Texas) A&M could beat Alabama Crimson Tide,” he said. “It is football. You have to go play. It is a long game and great things are going to happen and bad things are going to happen.”

The head coach said PNG will have to be at their best.

“They have a great team and great players,” he said. “We are going to have to play with great effort and be tough. Everyone plays hard. Every game is a battle and a tough test. It is not getting any easier for us this Friday.”

PNG enters the game with the district’s fourth-ranked offense and defense.

The PNG offense put together its most impressive performance against Barbers Hill, amassing 576 yards, led by quarterback Cole Crippen, who threw for 336 yards and four TDs, and running back Koby Trahan, who ran for 235 yards and three scores. Receiver Landon Guarnere hauled in six passes for 129 yards and three TDs.

Crippen hopes to keep the momentum going.

“My offensive line and wide receivers are doing a great job,” he said. “The are doing a great job of protecting me long enough to get the ball out. It felt good to have that game. We were the underdog going into that game. I got up the next morning and looked at all of the team stats and it felt really good.”

Crippen said he and his teammates have to stay level headed to avoid an upset of their own.

“We have to put it on the playoff basis,” he said. “We know what we have to do to make the playoffs.”

PNG sits in the fourth spot behind Nederland, Crosby and Texas City with games against the Cougars and Stings still on the schedule.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. today at Turner Stadium.