Port Neches-Groves ready for physical Titans; must “find a way to win one-on-ones on the outside”
Published 12:36 am Wednesday, August 24, 2022
PORT NECHES — Port Neches-Groves held a physical practice Monday as the football team prepared for the season opener against Memorial.
First-year Head Coach Jeff Joseph and assistant coaches were urging players to hit and not wait for someone in another jersey to line up in front of them.
That physicality was noticeable all over the field. In practice against the junior varsity defense, corners were urged to grab and hold receivers so the pass catchers can practice getting off the line against the Titans’ talented secondary.
“(Memorial) plays a lot of press coverage and is very good at it,” Joseph said. “Some of our varsity guys can run as fast as them, so it was a good way to prepare them for it.”
The PNG coach said much of the onus falls on senior quarterback Cole Crippen, who recorded 3,019 passing yards and 35 passing touchdowns last season, to throw receivers open.
“We are going to have to find a way to win one-on-ones on the outside,” Joseph said. “We have a quarterback that can throw the ball accurately. Hopefully he can put the ball in places to help them go make some catches.”
The quarterback said his accuracy should improve if his offense can stay on the field.
“Being accurate is always key to winning football games,” Crippen said. “More reps out of our plays will help me get my timing and window throws down.”
Crippen will likely target senior receiver Chance Prosperie, who led the team in receiving last season.
Prosperie was named to the 5A All State third team last season after racking up 82 catches for 1,374 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Joseph said Jelani Chevalier and safety Daevon Iles, who picked off three passes last season, are playmakers.
“Both of their corners are top-notch guys,” he said. “They have a safety that has some range and can make plays all over the field. They have defensive ends that can really rush the quarterback. They have a lot of talent over there.”
Joseph said the Titans’ team speed jumps out on film.
“They have a lot of guys that are really fast,” he said. “That is something that we haven’t been able to see since I have been here in practice. We are going to have to prepare for it… They have a really athletic quarterback, who throws the ball really well. Some of their defensive backs are outstanding players, as well.”
Crippen described the Titans’ defense as “powerful” and the veteran varsity players “know their role very well.”
Friday night will be the first time Joseph takes the field as the PNG head coach. With a packed house expected, Joseph is eager to experience the atmosphere.
“I am excited about seeing our guys to play against someone else,” he said.
The non-district game will count for the team’s win-loss record but does not have an impact on playoff seeding. Coaches typically use non-district games as tune-ups for district opponents. Joseph wants to see his guys play hard.
“I want to see us play with great effort,” he said. “What I am asking of them is to play with great effort. If we can do that, I think I will be happy coming out of the game.”
The team’s quarterback anticipates a big turnout for the home fans.
“PNG always has the best atmosphere in Southeast Texas,” Crippen said. “Friday will be a packed house on both sides. Our hometown will show out for the home opener.”
The game is set for 7 p.m. at PNG Stadium.