See how PNG can clinch a home playoff game this week

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, November 2, 2022

PORT NECHES — Despite playing in one of the most emotionally draining games of the season, Port Neches-Groves must pull it together for one more regular season game this week to clinch a home playoff contest.

The Indians (7-2, 5-1 in District 9-5A Division II) take on Galena Park (3-6, 0-6) on the road. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Thursday.

PNG defensive coordinator Matt McDaniel said the win over rival Nederland felt good, but added they have to refocus to close out the season.

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“I think our message is the same as it has been all year and it is to get back to work,” he said. “There are always things we can improve on. There was a lot we need to fix that we didn’t do very well. The message has been consistent throughout the year, and I think they know after watching the game film.”

PNG sits as the No. 2 seed in the district and holds on to the spot with a win. The top two seeds in the district host first-round playoff games.

“I think it is huge,” McDaniel said at the prospect of hosting a playoff game. “It is really big and something we have been talking to these kids about. It has been one of our goals, and we have been working hard to achieve that. It is always great to play at The Reservation. To host a playoff game there would be special for these seniors.”

PNG must shut down the run-heavy Galena Park offense, which uses a motion option attack.

“They use a lot of formations and concepts that you don’t traditionally see,” McDaniel said. “Our kids are going to have to do a really good job this week and have their eyes in the right place and play very disciplined.”

Those familiar with the Vidor offense will notice similarities between the Pirates and Galena Park.

The Yellowjackets lead the district in rushing yards but have only passed for 352 yards on the season (39 yards per game). The deceptive running style means the front seven of the PNG defense will have to pay greater attention to detail and be extra cautious to not get caught out of position. To help practice, McDaniel and the defensive staff implemented a unique strategy in practice.

“It is different,” he said. “You have to be perfect in your responsibility or they are going to pop some long runs. You have to approach it differently. We do our option period without a football. You don’t want them looking for the ball; you want them doing their job. It is a different mentality. At the end of the day, it is still gap-sound football that we always play. You just have to be perfect.”