Communities in Port Neches, Groves and farther ready for Indians’ playoff game

Published 12:10 am Friday, December 2, 2022

The Port Neches-Groves Indians play in the fourth round of the playoffs this evening for the first time in more than 20 years.

The game against No. 2-ranked Fort Bend Marshall kicks off at 7 p.m. at Galena Park.

Groves City Manager D.E. Sosa said the run harkens back to the 70s and 80s when PNG was a regular competitor for the state title.

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“It is like a time warp,” he said.

The energy has been palpable around the two cities and continues to grow and intensify with each win, Sosa said.

“I don’t think there are any better fans in the state of Texas than in Port Neches and Groves,” he said. “I think they are going to have a huge, huge following. It very well may be that the last one out of Groves and Port Neches needs to turn off the lights.”

PNG High School Principal Scott Ryan said he has also felt the buzz around the community.

“The community is fired up,” he said. “They love these kids and have grown up watching them. We have always felt like this is a good group. I can’t wait to see the atmosphere Friday night.”

PNG fans have always had a reputation for traveling. Snap shots on social media showed the PNG side of NRG Stadium packed to near capacity in last week’s win over Brenham.

Groves Fire Chief and broadcast announcer for Cool 92.5 Lance Billeaud said a conversation with a member of NRG showed just how much is known about PNG’s following.

“Even when it is opening weekend of deer season, PNG supporters are there,” he said. “There are people who live in the Houston area that haven’t been able to get to regular season games that have made it to the playoff games. We asked the people at NRG Stadium how they were only hosting one playoff game there. They usually don’t open up for just one game. They said we knew who you were and how well you travel, so we knew we weren’t going to lose any money.”

Billeaud has been fortunate to help chronicle the team’s historic run through the radio broadcasts.

“It is exciting because we get to keep doing our broadcast,” he said. “We get to be part of history because we haven’t been this far since ’99. It is historic for the broadcast booth because we haven’t been in the fourth round.”

Sosa said he hopes Galena Park is ready for a packed house.

“This team has a good chance,” he said. “They have it all put together. They have a good defense and good offense. They can run and stop the opponent. It is closer now than it has ever been.”

Rumors have swirled online about PNG’s side selling out of tickets, but Ryan said Thursday there were still plenty of seats available and doesn’t want people to get discouraged from trying to buy tickets and make the trip.