Port Neches-Groves football players declare support for Coach Faircloth at board meeting

Published 11:06 pm Friday, December 17, 2021

PORT NECHES — A majority of the Port Neches-Groves varsity football team showed up to a PNGISD school board meeting this week to voice support for Head Coach and Athletic Director Brandon Faircloth.

While there was no agenda item to discuss the head coach, junior quarterback Cole Crippen addressed the board during a portion of the meeting designated for public comment.

“My name is Cole Crippen, and I am a member of the PNG varsity football team,” he said to the board. “I am here tonight along with my teammates…in support of our coach Brandon Faircloth. We want him to continue to be our coach. Coach Faircloth is an honorable man and has led our team to do what many thought couldn’t be done this season. Not only did he lead us into the playoffs, but he got us into the third round. He is now the winningest coach in PNG history and is a role model for many student athletes. Coach Faircloth expects the best from his athletes, and we want to work hard for him. We respect him. We love him. We are a family. Thank you.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Since the coach’s position was not an agenda item, board members were not allowed to comment.

After Crippen spoke, School Board President Scott Bartlett told the quarterback he appreciated him taking time to talk to the board.

“It takes a lot of courage to do that, so thank you,” he said.

PNG Deputy Superintendent Julie Gauthier told Port Arthur Newsmedia neither the board nor administration could comment on personnel.

“Board meetings are open to the public and it is always good to see people come to the meetings and see what goes on and the decisions that are made,” she said. “This is a $50 million business that we run. It is good to have people there, and we love that our kids are involved in the process.”

School Board Vice President Brandon Cropper told Port Arthur Newsmedia he enjoys when students are involved.

“We have kids that come to school board meetings, whether it is with choir, Boy Scouts or band,” Cropper said. “I commend those boys that showed up and participated. We welcome all that show up and want to voice a concern or opinion.”

Superintendent Mike Gonzales also thanked the players for attending.

“I thank y’all for being here,” he said during the meeting. “Thank y’all for supporting your coach. He would be here today because our administrative staff comes to every board meeting, however he’s got a bug and not feeling very well. So he couldn’t be here today but we appreciate you all supporting him. I think that it would mean a lot to him if he were here today to hear what you said about him. I think that means a lot to him and we appreciate that.”

Faircloth said he was thankful for his players.

“It is really special,” Faircloth said this week after the meeting. “I feel like I have a really close relationship with the players. I have been here 13 years. I have known them, really, their whole lives. They are my son’s age. For Crippen to go and say those nice things, it really means a lot.”

Faircloth earned his 100th victory as a head coach this year and became the winningest coach in the program’s history.

Despite being picked to miss the playoffs all together this season, he led the Indians to the third round of the 5A Division II playoffs.

— Monique Batson contributed to this story.