South Oak Cliff stands in way of 1st PNG state championship in nearly 50 years

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, December 13, 2023

PORT NECHES — South Oak Cliff became the first Dallas ISD team to win back-to-back state championships when the Golden Bears defeated Port Neches-Groves 34-24 in 2022 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The only thing stopping a three-peat is once again PNG, as both squads are set to square off at 11 a.m. Saturday in the same stadium as last year.

At 13-2, South Oak Cliff presents the Indians’ toughest challenge yet.

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The Golden Bears are riding high into the state championship after defeating Frisco Emerson in the semifinal round, 36-24. That is coming off a shutout in the regional final over Lovejoy.

The script is an all too familiar one for Indians fans who remember the circumstances of 2022’s battle. In that game, a massive second half by Dallas South Oak Cliff was too much for PNG to overcome as the Bears won by 10 points.

At one point the Bears scored 29 unanswered points.

The Bears finished with 339 total yards and limited the Indians to 244 yards, with just 65 coming in the second half.

As this year’s showdown comes into focus, football fans need only look to last week for a primer of what is come.

Bears quarterback Williams Little threw for two touchdowns and running back Danny Green Jr. carried in two more touchdowns. In all, South Oak Cliff totaled 264 yards of offense last weekend, which is not a mind-boggling total, especially when considering a strong Port Neches-Groves defense that seems to get better by the week.

Those Bears names aren’t new to local football fans.

In 2022, when facing PNG, Little completed 9-of-16 passes for 225 yards while tailback Green totaled 68 yards on 15 carries.

The duo represents the head of the spear for the South Oak Cliff offense.

Simply cleaning up the mistakes from 2022 will go a long way to helping Port Neches-Groves come out victorious this year.

The Bears capitalized on Indians miscues on three occasions last year, snagging two safeties and had an interception return for a touchdown.

In fact, the Indians led 17-12 at the half in 2022 before the Bears dominated the last 24 minutes.

Oak Cliff put together the final touches on last year’s win with a time-consuming nine-play, 48-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal with 4:18 remaining to up the margin to 17 points.

Still, the Indians showed plenty of heart to wrap up an amazing season as they marched 83 yards in 17 plays to get more points on the board before time expired.

That experience is sure to go a long way for Port Neches-Groves this weekend.

As much as things may seem the same on the outside, everything is different this year.

The Indians coaches have a full two years of experience with their student-athletes.

The opponent is no longer a mystery and neither is the extended travel to get north to Arlington.

Ultimately, even the venue isn’t new to the Indians.

Port Neches-Groves has been here before. AT&T Stadium is not a venue for Sunday and professional stars only.

It could soon be PNG’s unofficial home away from home, the site of the school’s first state championship in nearly 50 years. The future is only four quarters away.

To take advantage of the opportunity, there is no school for Port Neches-Groves High School on Friday and a pep rally is taking place at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.