Bulldogs’ offense takes off

NEDERLAND — Mitchell LeBaron threw for 404 yards in less than three periods of work Friday night for Nederland.
It was quite a preview he gave the home crowd of what he can do. Not that he immediately realized it.
“I really don’t keep track,” he said.
LeBaron’s strong arm was only part of the positives the Bulldogs saw in their final preseason scrimmage, a 35-7 win over Livingston. Yet, it was the most glaring of improvements the Bulldogs can boast from their previous outing, a 35-28 loss at 4A state runner-up West Orange-Stark.
“We just focused on ourselves, and we did that, so I’m very happy with the way we played,” the first-year starter, who transferred before last season from Clear Springs, said.
All coach Larry Neumann was looking for were bit-by-bit improvements.
“You have to take a lot of things into consideration,” Neumann said. “My first impression is that we were a better football team totally than we were last week. You take into account who we played last week and who we played this week. We had some people playing different positions from last week. There are a lot of variables that are not the same as last week that matter.”
For one, Livingston is coming off a 2-8 season. Then, there are the personnel changes, mainly in the Bulldogs’ secondary. Neumann cited Ty Sheppard, Connor Thompson, Jalin Johnson and Tavian Mayfield in particular for their efforts.
While statistics from the WO-S scrimmage were not available, it appeared the Bulldogs’ offense is hitting its stride early. LeBaron threw for 309 yards in the first half on 10-of-14 passing and finished 13 of 17 for the game with one interception.
Getting adjusted to the offense and taking over Sage Seay under center has been relatively easy, LeBaron said.
“The players and coaches have been real helpful working with me,” he said. “I’ve really learned a lot and been confident.”
The wealth of playmakers surrounding LeBaron is making his job easier. Austin Krautz rushed just five times for 63 yards, all in the first half. Connor Perkins and Ryan Leleux each had three carries, but both combined for 60 yards.
Perkins helped get LeBaron started with the catch of a high-arcing 57-yard bomb to the Livingston 11 on the opening drive. Krautz capitalized three plays later from the 3 for the opening TD.
Krautz earned his second score of the night in the period, bouncing off the line twice before sprinting 40 yards down the field for Nederland’s second score.
LeBaron’s first TD strike was to Dean Fisher from 10 yards out in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a 21-0 edge. Then, he finished off a 42-yard drive in four plays with a 9-yard toss to Jalin Johnson on a cross route to set the would-be halftime score at 28-0.
All the while Nederland’s defense held Livingston to 34 yards — 17 rushing and 17 passing in the half. Nederland outgained Livingston 584-108.
“The cohesiveness we’re showing on both sides of the ball indicated to me that we’re getting comfortable in what we’re trying to do, and our personnel is getting a little more used to one another,” Neumann said.
The scoreboard actually reset to 0-0 for the second half, and Livingston struck first with a 16-yard completion on fourth and 6 early in the fourth quarter. But Sean Nguyen capped the night for the Bulldogs with a 17-yard carry up the middle on the ensuing drive.
Neumann was happy with the improvements Nederland made this week, knowing the challenge for next week is much greater with 5A fifth-ranked Crosby visiting.

Local

Here are the examples of positive education growth in Port Arthur, local leaders detail

Local

H.B. Neild open house celebrates near century of business excellence with eye toward future

College/Pro Sports

Port Neches-Groves grad Roschon Johnson looks back on NFL draft experience, rookie season

Local

RiverFest planning days of family fun, numerous attractions

Local

Assessment team shares tornado damage totals, possible avenues for reimbursement

Local

Port Neches Police Department arrests and responses: April 8-21

Local

Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce earns top distinction; 1 of few nationwide with the accreditation

Local

Vehicle with 3 inside, including a 7-month-old, shot at; arrest and charges set

Local

Abraham students capture 1st at Get Excited About Robotics competition

Groves

Groves Pecan Festival 2024 Queen’s Scholarship Pageant sign-up nears

Local

Port Neches nearing plan for pickleball courts

Local

PHOTOS — Community Retirement Home celebrates 80 years young

Beaumont

Spindletop Center hosting career fair Thursday; see the details

Local

Port Neches man killed when driver misses exit, speeds through median

BREAKING NEWS

Alternating lane closures this week on U.S. 69 northbound and beyond detailed

Local

Early voting ongoing for Jefferson County elections. See dates/times for separate May elections.

High School Sports

SPEED TO BURN — Memorial, Port Neches-Groves runners advancing to state meet

Local

Area football stadium vandals sentenced to probation; forced to pay for damages

Groves

Groves Police Department arrests and responses: April 10-16

Local

Groundbreaking kicks off work for Port Arthur’s new animal services center; see the details

Local

Fundraiser helping family of local man struck by vehicle in front yard; see how to help

Local

Louisiana man leads Port Neches police on chase. Not considering the welfare of others, chief says

Beaumont

Department of Transportation outlines closure of U.S. 69 northbound connector to Interstate 10

Local

Analyst “hopeful” Americans will soon see relief at the pump; see where Texas stands now