Port Neches-Groves football ready to ramp up practices as season approaches

Published 12:10 am Friday, July 22, 2022

PORT NECHES — Port Neches-Groves football players met for weight lifting and conditioning this week, as they have for most of the summer. In a little more than a week, the team will switch to padded practices and two-a-days in preparation for the upcoming season.

Quarterback Cole Crippen is ready for the season to begin.

“It is my and my friends’ senior year,” he said. “We can’t wait and we are ready. We have all been working really hard since the spring practice.”

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First-year head coach Jeff Joseph has had time to put his imprint on the team, which has high expectations.

PNG made it to the 5A-Division II Regional Semifinal (third) round of the playoffs last season. A majority of last year’s starters were juniors, which means this year’s team is senior-heavy.

Crippen said the team is aware of the expectations.

“You always keep it in your mind during your workouts,” he said. “You want to advance to (the fourth round) and maybe even further than last year.”

The quarterback said the team’s identity is already reflecting the new coach.

“In this town, football is a high priority,” Crippen said. “Everyone is going to know who he is, what he does and how we are as a team.”

Cities with one high school have the advantage of players growing up playing together. Most of PNG’s large senior class has played football with each other since their time in youth leagues. That continuity allows the team to craft a unique chemistry.

Crippen said the offense is working tirelessly on perfecting the little things, and he hopes it will show on Friday nights.

“We have been throwing in the mornings and afternoons and in workouts,” he said.

Last year’s leading receiver Chance Prosperie said the team has bonded “more than ever,” over the course of the summer workouts.

“It has been a mental and physical battle since Day 1,” he said. “And we know it will pay off. We have worked very hard and when we put on pads, it will definitely show.”

PNG had a bit of a different spring than most teams. Joseph elected to have padded spring practices. The call allowed a relatively new coaching staff to reevaluate players.

Most schools in the area will be allowed to start padded practices Aug. 1, but the University Interscholastic League rules stipulate any 5A or 6A team that had padded spring practice must wait until the second Monday of August.

This is part of the reason PNG is only having one scrimmage before non-district play starts. UIL rules state teams cannot have a interschool scrimmage until after the school has had six days of padded practice.