CHRIS MOORE — Memorial, PNG football games should be regular occurrence

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Memorial and Port Neches-Groves football teams will take the field against each other for the third time since Memorial moved to 5A Division I in 2018. Now that these teams aren’t in the same district, fans only get this matchup when the teams schedule each other for non-district play.

But this game should be played every year. It is a good test for both programs and keeps fans local. Of course it is always good to see the teams play up against a 6A opponent or other ranked 5A schools, but if these teams are going to be ranked at the start of each season, why not make this a regular occurrence and start a new rivalry.

The last two games have been thrillers and call back to the rivalry between PNG and Port Arthur’s Thomas Jefferson High School, which eventually combined with the other Port Arthur schools to create Memorial in the early 2000s.

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In the last meeting between the two squads, Memorial bested PNG in overtime. The Titans led 20-9 at the halfway mark, but PNG closed the gap quickly after scoring on the opening drive and capitalizing on a Titans turnover on the next kickoff. Within moments, PNG went up 23-20. After the fourth quarter whistle blew, the score was tied at 32-32.

PNG fumbled on the first drive setting up the Titans win a couple of plays later.

Memorial and PNG used to be in the same district, which made for some memorable games and district title races.

Both teams head into Friday’s game with something to prove. PNG is coming off a three-round playoff run and a majority of the starters are returning. Memorial retooled in the offseason and has a legitimate shot and is playing for a district title. There seems to be genuine excitement around the game.

Memorial Head Coach Brian Morgan said he wants his team to play in atmospheres like the one at PNG.

Morgan said he would like to schedule this game each season, if possible.

“I would love to play all of the local schools,” Morgan said. “Sometimes the way they split districts up, you just don’t know. On paper this year, we had PNG, United and Nederland. Then we get thrown into a nine-team district, so United is off the schedule. The more you can play local, it is going to increase attendance and fan participation. It creates a good atmosphere for the kids.”

If the two schools can work it out, it would be good to see a reoccurring game between the two schools with either home field is changed every year or every other year. It cuts down on travel costs and gets fans more invested in early games that impact record but have no bearing on the playoff seeding.

Here’s to hoping the two schools make it a priority to schedule each other for at least the next few years and hopefully, we can reignite a fun rivalry.

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