Port Neches-Groves in position to put together special playoff run

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Port Neches-Groves Indians are in a prime position to make the playoffs Friday. A win against a winless Santa Fe team will punch their ticket to the postseason.

The Indians could also be in position to make a good run given the way they have played the last few weeks.

Over the last four games, PNG beat Barbers Hill after entering the game as the underdogs and took No. 2 seed Texas City to overtime after being down 21-0 to start the game.

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While the team ultimately lost to the Stings, PNG is showing signs of a potential playoff run similar to the Nederland Bulldogs last season.

After losing to PNG in the opening district game in 2020, the Bulldogs rattled off an amazing string of wins, including defeats over Barbers Hill and Crosby to close out the season.

One of the defining traits of the Bulldogs’ 2020 season was their resolve in the face of adversity.

Four weeks ago, PNG’s outlook for the postseason was grim. After a 10-point loss to Nederland and a close win over Dayton, the Indians pulled off an upset over Barbers Hill.

The next week, PNG fell down 17-0 early to Friendswood. With their season on the line, the Indians pulled through for a 56-40 win.

After a blowout loss to Crosby, PNG was down 21-0 to Texas City. The Indians put together 35 unanswered points but ultimately fell in overtime. There are no moral victories, but if there were, that would be one.

One of the reasons PNG has a shot to make a playoff run is a revamped offense. The unit started out the season slowly. However, up until the loss to Crosby, the team had scored more points than the previous week for seven consecutive weeks.

PNG’s offense ranks third in the district in yards per game with 407 and fourth in points per game.

The potential for big plays is much like Nederland’s formula last season. The Bulldogs also had a knack for making big plays on defense when the team needed it most. That might be the last piece of the puzzle for PNG, but the way the Indians clawed back into the game against Texas City was a step in the right direction.

PNG Head Coach Brandon Faircloth is one of the best game planners in the area and will surely have a plan for any playoff opponent. Last season the Indians almost pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year by playing Fort Bend Marshall to a 21-14 playoff loss.

Faircloth’s keep-away plan kept the Indians in the game and was one or two plays away from winning it.

This team might have more weapons than last year’s squad. We are likely about to find out just how special they can be.

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