PN-G Indians Football

Good spirits: Indians over first loss going into playoffs

By I.C. Murrell | PA News

Published 7:31 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2017

PORT NECHES — The Indians are over it.

The Bum Phillips Bowl might have cost Port Neches-Groves the outright District 22-5A championship, but the Indians knew they have at least one more game to look forward to.

Coach Brandon Faircloth said Wednesday the loss revealed that his Indians (8-1) are not perfect, but they have not spent any time dwelling over a 36-35 loss at Nederland.

“We’ve lost one game by one point,” Faircloth said. “That’s the reality of it. I’m really proud of them. We left it all on the field, just like we have the previous eight games. We just came up short on a two-point conversion. Give Nederland credit for executing that.”

The 5A Division II playoffs would be a welcome distraction from the disappointment of nearly a week ago for PNG, which now shares the 22-5A championship for the third year in a row and second straight time with Port Arthur Memorial. (Nederland was the other co-champion in 2015.)

PNG is a No. 1 seed and will take on Crosby (9-1), another team that needed just one win to completely own its district. Instead, a 63-38 loss to New Caney dropped the Cougars to the second seed out of 21-5A.

“They’re big and physical. It’s going to be a really big test for us Friday night,” Faircloth said.

Friday’s 5A Division II bi-district game at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown is a familiar setting for the Indians. This will be their third straight playoff in the Goose Creek ISD stadium, where they eliminated Fort Bend Willowridge and lost to College Station in the Region III semifinals in 2016.

PNG also played four times at Stallworth a year ago. Crosby only has to journey 25 miles south to meet PNG.

“I think it’s comfortable for our kids,” Faircloth said. “Everybody on the team has played there last year. It’s comfortable for our fans. It’s an easy trip down the road. It’s a nice stadium. It can fit all of our fans. I think we are creatures of habit, and we’re all comfortable down there. We’re looking for any advantage Friday night.”

Any advantage would help, indeed.

The Cougars average 532 offensive yards, led by senior running back Craig Williams (1,646 yards and 27 touchdowns on 168 carries). Junior Jaiden Howard has been solid at quarterback, throwing for 2,390 yards and 23 touchdowns against four touchdowns while completing 64.3 percent of his passes.

“We know they’re going to be physical and good athletes,” PNG senior receiver Cameron Stansbury said. “We’ll have to run the football and throw the football well and do what we do.”

Luckily for PNG, its defense won’t be the only one to have its hands full. The Cougars, who have allowed a 21-5A-worst 366 total yards per game, has to contain 22-5A’s best offense, led by junior quarterback Roschon Johnson’s 2,252 yards and 26 touchdowns passing against three picks. Oh, and Johnson, who has run for 14 touchdowns, is also 29 yards away from 1,000 rushing.

Stansbury has six touchdowns and 465 yards receiving to his credit.

The winner will take on Houston Waltrip or Texas City, which play Thursday night at Delmar Stadium, in the area round. But the way Stansbury sees it, PNG has a lot of football left to play.

“It’s always nervous because if you lose, you’re out,” he said. “It’s our last year for seniors and we don’t want to quit playing football, so we’re going to give it all we’ve got.”

 
PNG vs. Crosby
• 5A Division II bi-district; 7 p.m. Friday; Stallworth Stadium, Baytown; KCOL-FM 92.5

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