Port Neches-Groves eyes first regional semifinal win since 1999; Thanksgiving practice nears

Published 12:08 am Tuesday, November 22, 2022

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For the second year in a row, the Port Neches-Groves Indians will play in the third round of the 5A Division II playoffs following a 24-19 win last week over LBJ Austin.

PNG (10-2) takes on Brenham (8-4) at NRG Stadium in Houston in the Region III semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday.

The Cubs are coming off a 31-10 win over Belton. Brenham is averaging 37 points through the first two playoff games.

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The PNG defense has played lights out in the first two rounds, holding both opponents to fewer than 20 points per game.

READ MORE: Titans ready for tall task in taking on No. 1-ranked Lobos.

“I think it has just been a process of building and getting more comfortable with what we are doing on defense,” Head Coach Jeff Joseph said. “Our coaches have done a really good job putting some things together heading into those playoff games.”

Last year, PNG fell to Texarkana 44-21. The Indians have not been past the third round of the playoffs since 1999, when they defeated Brazosport 35-21.

“It is a chance for our seniors to leave a little bit of a different mark than anyone in the past 20 years,” Joseph said. “It is a chance for them to stand out in a unique way. They have played their butts off for the last eight weeks in a row. This is a chance for them to make their mark on the program.”

PNG and Brenham met in the playoffs in 2009 in a game that ended with the Cubs coming out on top, 27-21. That year, the Cubs made it all the way to the 5A Division II state title game, where they lost 35-21 to Aledo.

Joseph isn’t the only first year head coach in this contest, as Cubs’ leader Danny Youngs is also in his first season running the program.

“They are solid all around,” Joseph said of the Cubs. “Their quarterback is probably the best running quarterback we have played against this year. He is very talented. They have really good linebackers. They are good on the defensive front. They have some athletes in the secondary and some speed on offense, but the quarterback is what makes them go.”

Joseph said the Cubs do a good job of scheming up running plays for the quarterback to get in space.

“It is going to be a challenge,” Joseph said. “When you have a running quarterback, you have to make sure you are disciplined on every play.”

The head coach said PNG will continue the tradition of the open practice on Thanksgiving morning for the community.