PNG RUNNING BACK UP FOR SPECIAL HONOR — Isaiah Nguyen leads with toughness

Published 12:26 am Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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PORT NECHES — Jeff Joseph first saw Isaiah Nguyen running track during the Spring of 2023 and knew he had the courage and mental toughness it took to run the relays.

“Then I saw him carry the football in Spring and knew he was a talented back,” the Port Neches-Groves High School head coach and athletic director said. “I had no idea how good he was going to be for us.”

More and more people are starting to understand just how good Nguyen was for the Indians.

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He just completed a senior season on the football field that ended in a state championship.

Along the way, Nguyen collected 2,051 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.

On Monday, he was named a finalist for offensive MVP in the Willie Ray Smith High School Football Awards.

Isaiah Nguyen, seen in Port Neches-Groves 2023 semifinal action, totaled more than 2,000 yards rushing on the season without losing a single fumble. (Brian Quijada/Special to The News)

The Beaumont Founders Lions Club will announce the winner Sunday/March 3 at the Elegante Hotel in Beaumont. This is the event’s 32nd year.

Joseph lauded Nguyen’s great patience and vision when describing his impact to Port Arthur Newsmedia, saying his senior did a great job finding tiny creases within his offensive line.

“When the holes were created, he had a good burst to get through them with balance,” Joseph said. “He was a really talented back for us.

“We knew the running game was something we had to have regardless of who was playing quarterback. We made sure to build ourselves to make sure there was always a way to run the football. Having a guy like Isaiah back there carrying the load when (quarterback) Shea (Adams) went out was huge for us.”

Joseph was particularly complimentary of Nguyen’s toughness, noting the running played most of 2023 “with a bum ankle” and “a lot of guts.”

Nguyen rolled his ankle again in the second round of the playoffs and still found a way to keep fighting through the pain and showing up.

“He ran the ball more than 300 times this year, and we would not have been in the state championship, much less won it, without Isaiah and the toughness and consistency he brought to our football team,” Joseph said.

“We’ll miss his consistency and ability to find those tough yards when there are not a lot of yards there. One of the best things he did for our football team was carry the ball 306 times, I think, last year and not lose a single fumble. Having that type of guy to put the ball in his hands in the biggest moments and know he is going to find a way to get tough yards, that’s an incredible stat for that young man. It will be something we will very much miss in the future.”


The Port Neches-Groves High School football team put the bow on an amazing 2023 with a come-from-behind 20-17 victory over the South Oak Cliff Bears at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

In securing the win Dec. 16, the 15-1 Indians capped an amazing stretch of playoff football where PNG defeated and often dominated the state’s best 5A Division 2 competition.

Shea Adams delivered the winning play from 2 yards out on a quarterback keeper on third down.

Isaiah Nguyen (19 rushes for 111 yards in the game) added a two-point conversion run to put the Indians up 20-17.

The game-winning scoring drive started in Bears territory at the 48 yard line after the Indians secured an onside kick that saw Maxwell Scroggs make the recovery with 7:37 left in the game.