PN-G Indians Football

Thanksgiving treat: PNG community wakes up to football on eve of NRG trip

By I.C. Murrell | PA News

Published 1:09 pm Thursday, November 23, 2017

PORT NECHES — If every Thanksgiving morning at Port Neches-Groves can be just like this one, the locals won’t mind.

As long as the Indians play football, their fans, family and friends will take an hour of their TV parade time and gather on the track to watch their team practice.

“It’s awesome this many people around here support us,” senior defensive end Layne Mobley said. “Hopefully, they’ll be out here and support us [Friday] night.”

Some who planned to go to NRG Stadium on Friday night bought advance tickets for the football festival called the UIL playoffs on the track. What’s been billed as a Nederland-PNG doubleheader two weeks after the Bum Phillips Bowl is actually a tripleheader in the Houston Texans’ arena, beginning with Summer Creek and Friendswood in 6A Division II at noon.

PNG (8-2) and Texas City (5-5) will square off in the 8 p.m. nightcap in a 5A Division II game that may evoke memories of the Indians’ “Astrodomination” days of the 1970s. Nederland takes on Manvel in 5A Division I in the middle game at 4 p.m.

“Back in the ‘80s, it was a good rivalry with a lot of the schools around here, but if you look at them now, you’ve also got Nederland, you’ve got Vidor, you’ve got Memorial,” said Ted Stansbury, great-uncle of PNG wideout Cameron Stansbury. “What more can you say? There are so many great teams around this area, that any time any of them play, it’s going to be a good game.”

And great crowds.

PNG and Nederland are considered home teams, meaning they will sit on the stadium’s west side, according to the NRG Park website.

Mike Stansbury, Cameron’s grandfather, said the open practice was a “morale-booster” for the Indians.

“It’s going to be a good game,” Mike said. “We’re going to be ahead just a little bit.”

Given a 72-69 outcome over Crosby in last Friday’s 5A Division II bi-district win, every little bit will count.

“I think 72-69 ought to boost our team,” Mobley said. “It ought to make our defense a little more mad and make our offense keep scoring many more points to get through it.”

That likely would mean more touchdowns for Roschon Johnson.

The NRG Stadium crowd will take a look at the junior University of Texas verbal commit who combined for 10 touchdowns against Crosby, including the game-winning 2-yard carry with 25 seconds left. Five of his touchdowns were passing.

Indians head coach Brandon Faircloth didn’t have to be reminded he’s never covered such a durable athlete as Johnson, who’s accounted for five or more touchdowns in each game this season.

“He has a lot of help,” Faircloth said. “He’s not doing it all by himself. We have a great offensive line, great receivers, great tight ends and tailbacks, great fullbacks, so it’s a team effort. Football is the ultimate team game. Roschon gets all the notoriety, but he’d be the first to tell you he doesn’t do it all by himself.”

Receivers like senior Preston Riggs help a great deal, too. He’s coming off a seven-catch, 202-yard performance alongside Cameron Stansbury’s two catches for 81 yards.

The Indians’ defense would like to give the offense better help against Texas City (5-5) after surrendering 69 points and 805 yards to Crosby.

“We just have to practice hard and get better,” defensive coordinator Dustin Templin said. “Every day, we’ve got to work on getting better. It doesn’t matter if it was Week 1 or Week 12.”

Templin is expecting a different kind of game from Texas City, which won state championships in 1997 and 1999. The Stingarees lean heavily on the run with four players rushing for 300 or more yards, led by sophomore Phillip McDaniel’s 597 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s gone for two of the Stingarees’ four 100-yard performances this season.

“Last week, it was spread it out a bunch,” Templin said. “This week, they’re going to run right at us. We try to be physical every day. We know Texas City is going to be physical. We have to match their physicality.”

PNG vs. Texas City
• 5A Division II area round; 8 p.m. Friday; NRG Stadium, Houston; KCOL-FM 92.5

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